Second modernity as a research agenda: Theoretical and empirical explorations in the 'meta-change' of modern society

  • Beck U
  • Lau C
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Abstract

In this article we are reformulating the theory of reflexive modernization as an empirical research programme and summarize some of the most recent findings which have been produced by a research consortium in Munich (integrating four universities, funded by the German Research Society (DFG)). On this basis we reject the idea that Western societies at the beginning of the twenty-first century move from the modern to the post-modern. We argue that there has been no clear break with the basic principles of modernity but rather a transformation of basic institutions of modernity such as the nation-state and the nuclear family. We would suggest, therefore, that what we are witnessing is a second modernity. Finally, we reform the theory of reflexive modernization in reaction to three uttered objections.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Boundary transcendence
  • Decision-making
  • Globalization
  • Individualization
  • Postmodernity
  • Reflexive modernization

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Authors

  • Ulrich Beck

  • Christoph Lau

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