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Modernities: A Geohistorical Interpretation



Modernities: A Geohistorical Interpretation

Peter J. Taylor

ISBN: 978-0-745-66874-1 May 2013 Polity 168 Pages

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Taylor develops a geohistorical argument which focuses on the periods and places of modernities, offering a grounded analysis of what it is to be modern. He identifies three 'prime modernities' which have defined the development of our modern world: today's consumer modernity preceded by the industrial modernity of the nineteenth century which was itself preceded by mercantile modernity.

Prologue: Being Geohistorical.

Who's Modern?.

1. Modern, --ity, --ism, --ization:.

Ambiguous to the core.

Social theory with smoke in its eyes.

2. Prime Modernities:.

Multiple moderns versus multiple modernities.

Consensus and coercion in the projection of hegemonic power.

3. Ordinary Modernity: .

Cultural celebrations of the ordinariness.

Feeling comfortable: the modern home.

Suburbia: the domestic landscape of consumer modernity.

Not modernism.

4. Modern States: .


Absolutism as a political way of life.

Going Dutch.

The changing nature of territoriality.

5. Political Movements: .

Parties and movements.

Movements and modernities.

Socialism against the modernity that Britain built.

Environmentalism against the modernity that America built.

r 6. Geographical Tensions:.

Where and what?.

Place-space tensions.

Nation-state as enabling place and dis-enabling space.

Home-household as enabling place and dis-enabling space.

7. Americanization:.

Incipient, capacious and resonant Americanizations.

Inside America: conditions for constructing a modernity.

Outside America: seeing the most modern of the modern.

Americanization and globalization.


Presents and Ends.

System logic: the extraordinary effect of ordinary modernity.

Political practice: the post-traditional challenge.



"This book reaches across disciplines, across countries and across ideologies, developing along the way a stimulating and original perspective on the making of the modern world." Nigel Thrift, University of Bristol

"Modernities is short, sensible, clear and reflective. It raises in an intelligent way the questions with which we all must deal. It is a book well worth reading." Immanuel Wallerstein, Binghamton University

"Modernities is to be recommended. It is highly accessible and presents complex ideas in a clear and entertaining fashion. It will interest proponents and opponents of modern thought, and would find much favour amongst sociologists, geographers and students of the social sciences more generally. The book highlights the continued importance of geographical approaches to the study of the rich and varied histories and geographies of modernity."Mark Banks, Manchester Metropolitan University, Sociological Research Online

* A clear and wide-ranging analysis of modernity and the 'modern' from the perspective of geography.
* Argues that there are three 'prime modernities' which have been defined by the development of the modern world: from mercantile modernity to industrial modernity and then to today's consumer modernity.
* Using a 'geohistorical' approach, the author moves beyond previous theories which simply linked modernity with industrialism, and demonstrates that modernity is firmly grounded in periods and places.