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European Modernity and Beyond
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European Modernity and Beyond
The Trajectory of European Societies, 1945-2000


June 1995 | 416 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
The European community has evinced dramatic changes since the conclusion of the second World War; both individually and collectively, its nations have experienced continuous shifts in political, cultural, and economic climes. Has this process resulted in greater solidarity among European nations--and with others on the globe--or has it only strengthened disparities? To what extent has the period 1945-2000 produced fundamental differences or revealed areas of continuity? Through his broad-ranging analysis of the profile of contemporary European societies, Göran Therborn assays the development and outcome of such crucial issues as mass consumption, collective memory and identities, modes of collective action, and the two great steering projects of the times: socialism in the East and European union in the West. Combining theoretical depth with empirical data, this volume will be essential reading for all students of the politics and sociology of Europe and of contemporary industrial societies.

 
PART ONE: THEORY AND HISTORY
 
Structure, Culture and Modernity
 
Europe in Modern History
 
PART TWO: STRUCTURATIONS
 
The Boundaries and the Peopling of Europe
 
Tasks
Divisions of Labour

 
 
Rights to Claim
Membership and Welfare

 
 
Rights to Act
Politics, Sex and Property

 
 
Means
`The Glorious Years'

 
 
Risks and Opportunities
 
PART THREE: SPACING
 
Cities and States
 
The European Economic Space
 
Europe's Cultural Space
 
PART FOUR: ENCULTURATIONS
 
Issues of Identity
 
Horizons of Knowledge and Times of Belief
 
Values of Contemporary Modernity
 
PART FIVE: COLLECTIVE ACTION AND SOCIAL STEERING
 
Civil Societies and Collective Action
 
Eastern Socialism and Western Union
Two Processes of Social Steering

 
 
PART SIX: MODERNITY AND EUROPE: SIX QUESTIONS AND THEIR ANSWERS

`There is a dearth of serious, analytical informed sociological accounts of the significance of modern Europe. Yet there is a wealth of data available and a core theoretical tradition of historical sociology and comparative analysis. Therborn's book is an impressive marriage of painstakingly collected and superbly organised information with directing theory. He calls it "sociological history" and says it is aimed at a generally interested public. It is this and much more. It is a highly accessible compendium of current sociological data about a wide range of European (east and west) social structural and cultural organisation and behaviour and a clear account of the directions of European social change within an unfinished project of modernity.... The reach is very ambitious. The macro-sociological grasp is impressive within the bounds of a single volume.... The book does not have a thesis or a big idea. Indeed this is explicitly disavowed by Therborn. But it is a remarkably focused, precise and extensive treatment of a huge topic. As a useful teaching text it has, to my knowledge, no rival. Its coverage and comparison of issues and societies both eastern and western, its enormously usable collection of data (74 tables), its Europe-wide contextualisation of the substantial issues important in contemporary empirical sociology and, lest this sound too sombre, the clarity and frequent vividness of its writing and its reasoned political hopefulness make it a most significant book in this area' - Sociology

`Therborn's concern in this stimulating and highly ambitious work is nothing less than to take stock of European modernity in the period since the Second World War. How has it related to its traditions of Enlightenment and citizenship? What have been the basic patterns of development, economic, social, cultural and political? Where does Europe fit now, in a world where there are not simply different routes to modernity but different conceptions of the end-point, `alternative modernities'? The strength of this book is that Therborn does not address these questions mainly speculatively but historically and empirically. In this he has achieved an astonishing feat of compression. Nowhere else can one find, within the compass of one volume, such an array of statistics and researching findings... It is difficult to imagine anyone other than Therborn who might have attempted this gigantic task of comprehension and compression. He has also given us many glimpses of his enterprises... One has the distinct impression, too, that this is only the first of a series of syntheses covering the European story in the second half of the twentieth century. If so, there is much to look forward to. Meanwhile what we have here is a splendid achievement, and a godsend to hard-pressed students and teachers of courses on contemporary European politics and society' - Political Studies

`Göran Therborn's trajectory of European societies is a masterful work of erudition and a synthesis of recent social theories grounded on empirical evidence. Written at the cross-road of sociology, political science and social history, this cross-national comparison deserves to be required reading for senior students on both sides of the Atlantic' - Professor Mattei Dogan, Director, CNRS, Paris

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