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Introduction to Sociology

<<< Previous MODERNITY AND POST MODERNITY:Cultural Patterns, Post-modernity
Introduction to Sociology ­ SOC101
Lesson 45
Modernity means the adoption of those social patterns that have resulted from industrialization. In
everyday usage modernity designates the present in relation to the past. Sociologists include in this concept
the social patterns set in motion by the Industrial Revolution beginning in Western Europe in the middle of
18th century.
Modernization is the process of the adoption of those patterns of behavior which have been considered as
The rise of modernity is a complex process involving many dimensions of change. These dimensions could
be: cultural patterns, social structure, social institutions, and social change.
Cultural Patterns
Traditional societies are governed by homogeneity in the cultural values. There is similarity in the cultural
values which are considered as sacred and people would like to preserve them. There is low tolerance of
differences in values. Compared with traditional societies, the modern societies demonstrate heterogeneity.
In the modern society there is a variety of cultures. Modern society is an urban society which consists of
people belonging to different religions, variety of occupations, variety of ethnicity, and hence different
cultural patterns. Within the broad cultures one comes across variety of subcultures and sometimes
countercultures as well.
The social norms are of high moral significance and the traditional society does not tolerate the divergence
in social norms. In the modern society there is variation in the norms and the people in the urban/modern
society are highly tolerant of the diversity in social norms.
In the traditional societies the present is linked with past. For the present problems people try to look for
solutions in the past i.e. how did the forefathers solve similar problem in the past? For modern societies,
the present is linked to the future i.e. present problems are to be solved with what is going to happen in the
Traditional societies use pre-industrial technology and mostly people depend upon human and animal
energy. Compared with that the industrial societies use advanced sources of energy.
Social Structure
In the traditional societies people have few statuses and most of these statuses are ascribed. Every body
performs multiple roles; in fact there is little specialization of roles.
In the modern society there is a variety of occupations as well as variety of statuses and the corresponding
roles to be performed. Most of the statuses as well as roles are achieved ones. There is variety of
specialized roles and people perform such roles.
Most of the relationships in the traditional society are of "primary" type. There is little anonymity and
privacy of the families from each other. In the modern societies, people are more concerned about their
own affairs. They have secondary relations and don't know much about what is happening in the
Most of the communication in the traditional societies is face to face but in the modern societies it is
supplemented by mass media.  We use telephone, internet, radio, television, and print media for
communication with others. People have little time to visit somebody and talk personally.
Social control through gossip or social pressure has been replaced by formal agencies like police and legal
system in the modern societies. Due to the diversities of culture in the modern society, the cultural norms
Introduction to Sociology ­ SOC101
may conflict with each other. Therefore, the whole system gets formalized and enforced by agencies
authorized by the law of the country.
Traditional societies experience rigid patterns of inequality and there is limited social mobility. Modern
societies exhibit fluid patterns of social inequality. Status of a person is an achieved one and there are plenty
of opportunities to move from one occupation to another. In modern industrial societies there is lot of
social mobility.
In the traditional societies patriarchy is highly pronounced. Women are subordinate to men and most of
their lives are centered in the home. As we move toward modern societies, patriarchy starts declining.
Societies move toward universal education and women start participating in the labor force. As a result they
become financially independent and fight for their rights. Hence the decision making becomes fluid,
moving away from authoritarian pattern to egalitarian pattern. All this change, amounts to women
In the small scale, pre-industrial societies, governments amounted to little more than a local noble. A royal
family formally reigned over an entire nation, but without efficient transportation or communication, the
power of even absolute monarchs fell far short of the power wielded by today's political leaders. As
technological innovation allowed government to expand, the centralized state grew in size and importance.
Governments have entered more and more areas of social life: schooling the population, regulating wages
and working conditions, establishing standards for products of all sorts, and offering financial assistance to
ill and the unemployed. To pay such expenses, taxes have soared. In modern society, power resides in large
bureaucracies' leaving people in local communities little control over their lives.
In the traditional societies extended family is the important institution for the socialization of children. Also
family is the primary unit of economic production. In modern societies extended families are replaced by
nuclear families. It does retain some socialization function but by and large becomes a consumption unit
rather than a production unit.
Religion permeates the lives of people in the traditional societies. Pluralism is little tolerated. But in the
modern societies, religion weakens with the rise of science. People look for the solution of their problems
in science rather than in religion. Even in the society the plurality of religions is tolerated
Formal schooling in the traditional societies is limited to the elites. In the modern society basic schooling
becomes universal, with growing proportion of population receiving advanced education
In the traditional society there is high birth rate and high death rate. Because of low standard of living and
simple medical technology, generally there is low life expectancy.
Comparatively in the modern societies there is low birth rate and low death rate. Due to high standard of
living and sophisticated technology people usually enjoy longer life expectancy.
Settlement patterns in the modern societies are large. Population is typically concentrated in large cities.
Social change in the traditional societies is slow and it takes many generations to visibly notice the actual
change that has taken place. In the modern societies change is very rapid and it is evident within a single
If modernity was the product of the Industrial Revolution, is the Information Revolution creating a post
modern era? A number of scholars think so and use the term post-modernity to refer to social patterns
characteristic of postindustrial societies. Post industrial society is based on information, services, and high
technology, rather than on raw materials and manufacturing. Post-modern society is another term for
postindustrial society; its chief characteristic is the use of tools that extend the human abilities to gather and
analyze information, to communicate, and to travel.
Introduction to Sociology ­ SOC101
Characteristics of Post-Modern Society
In 1973, Daniel Bell noted the emergence of a postindustrial society. He gave six characteristics:
Extensive travel among nations;
A vast surplus of goods;
a service sector so large that it employs the majority of workers;
A wide variety and quantity of goods available to average person;
An `information explosion'; and
A `global village' i.e. instantaneous, worldwide communications.
Of these six items the last two are the most important. We find that the news are instantaneously
transmitted by satellite having worldwide effects. Social space is no longer a configuration of territorial
places, territorial distances, and territorial borders; it is fast approaching a global village.
Post-industrial society remains a matter of debate
Five basic themes of this debate:
1. In important respects, modernity has failed: The promise of modern society was a life free
from want. As postmodernist critics see it, however, the twentieth century was unsuccessful in
solving social problems like poverty, since many people still lack financial security.
2. The bright light of "progress" is fading. Modern people look to the future, expecting their lives
will improve in significant ways. Members of post-modern societies, however, are less confident
about what the future holds. Optimism has been replaced with pessimism with the assumption
that the life is getting worse.
3. Science no longer holds the answers. The defining trait of the modern era was a scientific
outlook and a confident belief that technology would make life better. But post modern critics
contend that science has not solved many old problems (like the poor health) and has even created
new problems (such as degrading the environments). Science has been widely used for political
purposes, especially by powerful segments of society.
4. Cultural debates are intensifying. Modernity was to be an era of enhanced individuality and
expanding tolerance. But it has fallen short here as well. Feminism points out that patriarchy still
continues to limit the lives of women, and multiculturalism seeks to empower minorities who still
remain at the margin of social life. Moreover, now that more people have all the material things
they need, ideas are taking on more importance. Thus, post-modernity is also a post-materialistic
era, in which issues like social justice, as well as the environment and gay rights, command more
and more attention.
5. Social institutions are changing. Just as industrialization brought a sweeping transformation to
social institutions, the rise of a post-industrial society is remaking society all over again. Just as the
Industrial Revolution placed material things at the center of productive life, now the Information
Revolution emphasizes ideas. Similarly, the post-modern family no longer conforms to any single
pattern; on the contrary, individuals are choosing among many new family forms. There are
diversities in the marriage and family.
Despite such debate, yet few think that modernity has failed completely; after all, we have seen marked
increases in longevity and living standards over the course of last century. Moreover, even if we accept
post-modernist views that science is bankrupt and progress is a sham, what are the alternatives?
But as part of global stratification, poor societies appear to have little ability to modernize. Here the barrier
does not appear to be the `traditionalism' but global domination by the rich capitalist societies. The rich
nations only perpetuate current patterns of global inequality
Table of Contents:
  1. THE ORIGINS OF SOCIOLOGY:Auguste Comte, The Fields of Sociology
  2. THE SOCIOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE:Society affects what we do
  3. THEORETICAL PARADIGMS:Salient Paradigms, Critical Evaluation
  4. SOCIOLOGY AS SCIENCE:Empirical, Verifiable, Cumulative, Self-Correcting
  6. SOCIAL INTERACTION:Social Status, ROLE, The Social Construction of Reality
  7. SOCIAL GROUPS:Primary and Secondary Groups, Reference Group, Networks
  8. ORGANIZATIONS:Utilitarian Organizations, Coercive Organizations
  9. CULTURE:Universality, Components of Culture, Symbols, Language
  10. CULTURE (continued):Beliefs, Norms, Cultural Diversity
  11. CULTURE (continued):Culture by social class, Multiculturalism, Cultural Lag
  14. AGENTS OF SOCIALIZATION:The Family, The School, Peer Groups, The Mass Media
  16. SOCIAL CONTROL AND DEVIANCE:Crime, Deviants, Stigma, Labeling
  17. THE SOCIAL FOUNDATIONS OF DEVIANCE:Cultural relativity of deviance
  18. EXPLANATIONS OF CRIME:Sociological explanations
  19. EXPLANATIONS OF CRIME -- CONTINUED:White-Collar Crime, Conflict Theory
  26. SOCIAL MOBILITY:Structural factors, Individual factors, Costs
  27. THE FAMILY: GLOBAL VARIETY, Marriage Patterns, Patterns of Descent
  28. FUNCTIONS OF FAMILY:Reproduction, Social placement
  29. FAMILY AND MARRIAGE IN TRANSITION:Family is losing functions
  30. GENDER: A SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION, Gender socialization
  31. GENDER SOCIALIZATION:Role of family, Gender Stratification
  32. EXPLANATIONS OF GENDER INEQUALITY:Conflict Explanations, Feminism
  33. FUNCTIONS OF SCHOOLING:Cultural Innovation, School Tracking
  34. ISSUES IN EDUCATION:Low Enrollment, High Dropout, Gender Disparity
  36. THEORY OF POPULATION GROWTH:Theory of Demographic Transition
  37. POPULATION PROFILE OF PAKISTAN:World Population Growth
  38. POPULATION PROFILE OF PAKISTAN (Continued):Age Distribution, Sex Composition
  39. IMPLICAIONS OF POPULATION GOWTH:Additional GDP needed per year
  40. POPULATION POLICY:Goals of Population Policy, Objectives, Strategies
  41. ENVIRONMENT AND SOCIETY:Global Dimension, Historical Dimension
  42. ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES:Preserving Clean Water, Clearing the Air
  43. SOCIAL CHANGE:Social change is controversial.
  44. CAUSES OF SOCIAL CHANGE:Culture and Change, Conflict and Change, Modernization
  45. MODERNITY AND POST MODERNITY:Cultural Patterns, Post-modernity