The twin theories of late 20th-century societal constellations, functionalist

modernization theory and neo-Marxist theories of late capitalism, fell into
crisis and disrepute during the 1970s and 1980s. Social theory responded to
such double crisis of the theorizing of `capitalism' and of `modernization' by
embracing the term `modernity', a term that, almost unknown in social thought
before the end of the 1970s, appeared to provide a new common ground in
terms of representing the present societal constellation. At the same time,
however, the move towards such a common reference term appeared to
entail the loss of all possibility of critique. Traditionally, critique used to
embrace modernity (even without using the term) and to denounce capitalism
because of its inability to complete the project of modernity - or rather:
because of the obstacles it posed to such completion. To use the term
`modernity' for a contemporary reality that was without doubt capitalist as well,
made such a conceptual strategy impossible. Instead of returning to standard
theories of capitalism, however, it is argued here that both capitalism and
critique need to be reconceptualized in the light of their relation to modernity if
the both intellectual and sociopolitical transformations since the 1970s are to
be taken seriously.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful