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Explore the Claim That Contemporary Societies Have Moved from Modernity into the Post Modern Condition. Illustrate Your Answer with Reference to at Least Two Substantive Areas Covered in the Lecture and Seminar Programme

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Essay title: Explore the Claim That Contemporary Societies Have Moved from Modernity into the Post Modern Condition. Illustrate Your Answer with Reference to at Least Two Substantive Areas Covered in the Lecture and Seminar Programme

“Explore the claim that contemporary societies have moved from modernity into the post modern condition. Illustrate your answer with reference to at least two substantive areas covered in the lecture and seminar programme.”

As society has developed from a pre-industrial society to modern industrial society (modernity) many sociologists have studied the different elements that have contributed to society’s arrival in the age of modernity.

One of the factors that sociologists attribute to modernity is the theme of community. Fulcher and Scott define community as “A group of people who have some aspect of their lives in common, engage in common activities and collective action, and have a shared and distinctive sense of identity” ; many sociologists contribute the declining role of community within society as a characteristic of the modern society”. The German sociologist Ferdinand Toennies produced the theory of Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft (community and association), Toennies argued that the decline of human society was due to the arrival of the industrial revolution, and although he didn’t feel modern society was worse than pre-industrial society, Toennies believed that the growth of individualism was a drawback for society as a whole, he argued that before society advanced in areas such as technology, the feeling of ‘community’ within society was much stronger, for example before the telephone and the internet people heavily relied on the postal system and before the introduction of televisions in every household families kept themselves entertained. Toennies’ work on community and modernity has been widely criticized by other sociologists who feel that Toennies’ favours and romanticizes the idea of traditional pre-industrial societies.

Unlike Toennies, sociologist Emile Durkheim did not see modernization as the loss of community, but rather as a change in the basis of community from mechanical solidarity to organic solidarity. Durkheim was more optimistic then Toennies about the effects of modernity, yet he still feared instability in society caused by the erosion or abandonment of moral and social codes otherwise known as anomie. Compared to Toennies and Durkheim, Max Weber was pessimistic and critical about the effects of modernity. Weber argued that ideas and beliefs are what cause social change. For him, modernity meant increased rationality and a corresponding decline in tradition. He was concerned that rationalization would erode the human spirit; critics of Weber questioned whether it is bureaucracy that causes alienation or just social inequality.

Karl Marx focused on social conflict. He saw the Industrial Revolution as primarily a capitalist revolution. He agreed with Tennis’s analysis of the changing nature of community. He was concerned with Durkheim's sense of the increase in the division of labor. His position also supported Weber's view about increasing rationality and declining tradition. However, for Marx, these processes were all changes that supported the growth of capitalism, and of this he was very critical.

In his book ‘The McDonaldization of Society’ George Ritzer has taken the main arguments and findings from Weber’s analysis of modern society and expanded upon them, doing so he has created an analysis of how social structural change effects human interaction and society. Ritzer has used the analogy of Mcdonalds to illustrate the process of the rationalization of society and culture. Ritzer defines his theory of Mcdonaldization as “the process by which the principles of the fast food restaurant are coming to dominate more and more sectors of American society as well as of the rest of the world” .

In his analysis Ritzer suggests that the oragisational structure of the fast food industry is fast becoming more and more apparent in society. Central to Ritzer's argument is Max Weber's theory of bureaucracy and the larger process of rationalization that underlies it. While for Weber bureaucracy is the model of rationalization, for Ritzer the fast food restaurant is the paradigm of McDonaldization. Both instances describe an organizational model that strives to eliminate inefficiency, irrationality, uncertainty, and unpredictability. It should not overhastily be concluded, however, that the two processes are the same. McDonaldization is not just an extension of rationalization, it is also an extreme version of it. According to Ritzer, the Macdonaldization

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