1st Edition

Imaginaries of Modernity Politics, Cultures, Tensions

By John Rundell Copyright 2017
    316 Pages
    by Routledge

    314 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book offers a new perspective on the issue of modernity through a series of interconnected essays. Drawing centrally on the works of Castoriadis, Luhmann, Heller and Lefort, and in critical discussion with Weber, Durkheim, Simmel, Adorno, Habermas and Taylor, the author argues that modernity is not only a unique historical creation but also a multiple one.

    With a focus on five broad themes - the problem of understanding of modernity after the decline of grand narratives; the complexity of the modern condition; politics, especially with reference to freedom and totalitarian regimes; the variety and density of modern life; and the centrality of a concept of culture to social and critical theory - John Rundell advances the view that modernity is not the outcome of an evolutionary process or historical development, but is unique and indeterminate, as are the constitutive dimensions that can be identified as 'modern'. There are, then, different modernities.

    A rigorous engagement with a range of prominent and contemporary social theorists, Imaginaries of Modernity casts new light on the significance of understanding the multidimensional character of modernity and the plurality of its forms beyond the conventional paradigms associated with only the West. As such, it will appeal to scholars of social theory, critical theory, sociology and philosophy concerned with questions of culture, politics and modernity.

    Introduction: Modernity is Out of Joint Page

    Part 1: Tensions of Modernity

    1. From Communicative Modernity to Tensions of Modernity Page

    2. Modernity, Contingency, Dissonance Page

    3. The City and Fear: Citizens, Strangers, Outsiders Page

    Part 2: Political modernities

    4. Durkheim and the Reflexive Condition of Modernity Page

    5. Democratic Revolutions, Power and The City Page

    6. Autonomy, Oligarchy, Statesman: Weber, Castoriadis and the Fragility of Politics Page

    7. Power, Politics and its Closure – On the Work of Claude Lefort Page

    8. Tensions of Citizenship in the Age of Diversity Page

    9. From Indigenous Civilisation to Indigenous Modernities Page

    10. Intersections and Tensions Between Civilisations and Modernities:

    The Case of Oman Page

    11. Cosmopolitanism as an Open Universal Page

    Part 3: In Search of Transcendence

    12. Multiple Modernities, Sacredness and the Democratic Imaginary:

    Religion as a Stand-in Category Page

    13. In search of transcendence: Charles Taylor’s Critique of Secularisation Page

    14. Modernity, Love and Imagination Page

    15. Musicality and modernity: Music as a Space of Possibilities Page


    John Rundell is Principal Honorary and Associate Professor and Reader in Social Theory at The University of Melbourne, Australia. He is the author of The Origins of Modern Social Theory from Kant to Hegel to Marx, the editor of Aesthetics and Modernity: Essays by Agnes Heller, and the co-editor of Between Totalitarianism and Postmodernity; Rethinking Imagination: Culture and Creativity; Culture and Civilization: Classical and Critical Readings; Blurred Boundaries: Migration, Ethnicity, Citizenship; Critical Theory After Habermas: Encounters and Departures; Contemporary Perspectives in Social and Critical Philosophy; and Recognition, Work, Politics: New Directions in French Critical Theory.