Which "Reflexive Modernisation"? The Role of Reflexivity in Social Change

Author/s Pierpaolo Donati
Publishing Year 2010 Issue 2010/1
Language Italian Pages 36 P. 9-44 File size 690 KB
DOI 10.3280/SP2010-001002
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The paper deals with the issue of reflexivity in the different spheres of society as they are affected by the processes of globalization. The Author presents a relational theory of reflexivity by which he can show that each sub-system of society is more or less differentiating itself according to a (prevailing) code or register of reflexivity. Global contextualism changes the way people manage the distinction between the particular and the universal (i.e. their perceived ‘different identities’) according to a plurality of reflexive processes. A differentiating universalism emerges within the different spheres of society. Four main societal sub-systems are analyzed: the market, the political system, the associational (or third sector) system, and the system of families and informal primary networks. In principle, within these spheres many different codes of reflexivity can be detected. But each societal subsystem supports, or vice versa hinders, only a few of them, or better a peculiar combination between them, and usually one dominating the others. The four types of reflexivity detected by M.S. Archer can be correlated to the different spheres/sub-systems of society in order to see how the latter change their operations and overall configuration. In the end, it is shown that the thesis of "reflexive modernity" is a reductive and an undifferentiated way to look at what happens in our globalizing society. The differentiation of reflexivity does not represent a further stage of modernity (postmodernity), but it generates an after-modern society. This claim will be particularly discussed with reference to the associational sphere, in which a new (after-modern) civil society is emerging.

Keywords: Modernisation, Reflexivity, Relational Sociology, Relational Differentiation, After-Modern Society

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Pierpaolo Donati, Quale "modernizzazione riflessiva"? Il ruolo della riflessività nel cambiamento sociale in "SOCIOLOGIA E POLITICHE SOCIALI" 1/2010, pp 9-44, DOI: 10.3280/SP2010-001002