Reflections on Multiple Modernities: European, Chinese, and Other Interpretations

Reflections on Multiple Modernities: European, Chinese, and Other Interpretations

Reflections on Multiple Modernities: European, Chinese, and Other Interpretations

Reflections on Multiple Modernities: European, Chinese, and Other Interpretations


This volume explores a rapidly emerging paradigm in the social sciences, which assumes culturally specific forms of modernity. Modernization is thus no longer equated with homogenization. Leading scholars from history, sociology, area studies, and economics discuss the concept's implications. The first part covers a range of theoretical questions arising from the new approach. Issues such as the common features of all modernities and their interrelation with regional particularities, the reasons for antinomies of modernity, and the preconditions for a peaceful coexistence of cultures are raised. The second and third parts deal with Europe and China as two specific encounters with modernity, the tensions between universalism and cultural identities, both in past and present. The fourth part analyzes how Multiple Modernities translates into formal and informal institutions of diverse capitalisms. Authors include well-known specialists Mark Juergensmeyer, Hartmut Kaelble, Bruce Mazlish and Frederic Wakeman.


Bolko von Oetinger

The Strategy Institute of The Boston Consulting Group is pleased to have hosted a Multiple Modernities Conference of leading international social scientists in the Berlin Wissenschaftszentrum on May 2021, 2001. This publication makes the conference papers available to the public and especially to researchers and students who did not have the opportunity to attend the meeting.

The attention that we in The Strategy Institute have given to the field of multiple modernities grows out of our broad interest in the nature of strategy. Cooperation with academic researchers from various disciplines enables us to develop a richer understanding of strategy and of the social, cultural, and political environment for business. The Berlin conference contributed substantially to that goal. It is our intention to make our findings available through publications.

The idea that we live in a world of different modernities, Western and non-Western, is a challenge to typical economic thinking, which tends to homogenize the economic environment by defining generally accepted, universally applicable “laws” and “rules” and by generally ignoring the noneconomic factors influencing economic decisions. The Berlin conference provided substantial insights into the complexities of a global economy. The general interest of the business world in the publications of Francis Fukuyama (The End of History and the Last Man) and Samuel Huntington (The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order) is a sign of an increasing focus on noneconomic matters. Although all major Western companies try to exploit — in the best meaning of the word — all global opportunities that are economically advantageous to them, they are becoming increasingly aware that different societies require different questions, different answers, and different approaches. Unfortunately, the search for the right questions, answers, and approaches has not yet yielded practical, useful consequences for business and public policy. So far the World . . .

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