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26 NOVEMBER 2009

Big Hair: A Wig History of Consumption in Eighteenth-Century France

"Historians of consumption have generally followed social theorists in emphasizing two different aspects of modernity. While social scientists emphasize long term processes of 'modernization,' such as urbanization and industrialization, cultural historians and literary critics define modernity in terms of consciousness, stressing in particular the development of a reflexive self and a heightened awareness of one's present age as new and set off from the past.(4) Both understandings of modernity underpin current historical literature on eighteenth–century Western European consumption. Highlighting socioeconomic processes of commercialization, historians argue that eighteenth–century Western Europe experienced a 'consumer revolution' as men and women freed themselves from the grip of scarcity to initiate a buying spree of historic proportions. Although its geography and periodization remain highly controversial, such a revolution is commonly represented as a step toward modern consumer society.(5) At the same time, the study of consumption, especially French consumption, has taken a cultural turn, opening new doors between the Enlightenment and late modernity. (6) Daniel Roche, whose work has defined the field, argues that the birth of consumption was an integral part of a larger cultural change in which the traditional values of a stationary Christian economy gradually gave way to the egalitarianism and individualism of modern commodity culture. For Roche, the story is principally one of emancipation: 'It is important to recognize that . . . commodities did not necessarily foster alienation; in fact, they generally meant liberation.'(7) The diffusion of fashion led to 'a new state of mind, more individualistic, more hedonistic, in any case more egalitarian and more free.'(8) Less optimistic than Roche but equally intent on establishing a connection between Enlightenment consumption and modernity, Jennifer Jones contends that the late–eighteenth–century discourse on fashion helped to produce modern, essentialized definitions of gender. As social differentiation faded from fashion commentary, gender differentiation took its place.(9)"

(Michael Kwass, p.633, The American Historical Review, 111.3)

Fig.1 FRONTISPIECE: Wigs. Encyclopédie, ou Dictionnaire raisonnée des sciences, des arts et des métiers. Recueil de planches, sur les sciences, les arts libéraux, et les arts méchaniques, avec leur explication, 11 vols. (Paris, 1762–1772), s.v. "Perruquier."

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TAGS

changecollaborationcommercialisationconsciousness • consumer revolution • consumer societyconsumerismconsumptioncostume design • cultural historian • Daniel Roche • egalitarianism • emancipationEuropean EnlightenmentfashionFrancegender differentiationgeographyhairhedonismhistoryindividualismindustrialisation • Jennifer Jones • late modernityliterary criticmodernisationmodernityperiodisation • reflexive self • social change • social constructionist • social differentiationsocietysocio-economictraditiontransformationurbanisation • Western Europe • wig

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
26 NOVEMBER 2009

Intellectual Discourse and the Politics of Modernization: Negotiating Modernity in Iran

"Jurgen Habermas's theory of modernity also attempts a rejuvenation of modernity. For Habermas, the 'crisis of modernity' is not indicative of the final collapse of the Enlightenment project, but instead reveals the deficiencies of what has heretofore been a one–sided and inadequate modernity. Thus, modernity is an 'incomplete' project, and the question of modernization becomes central to completing modernity.(18) Habermas argues that our contemporary experience of modernity has been unduly dominated by a single type of rationality, specifically by purposive or instrumental rationality.(19) The discontents of modernity, then, are not rooted in rationalization or modernization as such, but 'in the failure to develop and institutionalize all the different dimensions of reason in a balanced way.'(20) This (re)opening of modernity to different means of rationalizing the life world has led John Tomilson to suggest that Habermas's vision denies an inevitable path of modernization, that '. . . the sort of modernity that the West has developed and passed on to the 'developing world' is not the only possible historical route out of the chains of tradition.' (21) However, Habermas makes this opening while retaining a commitment to the Enlightenment project of universal modernity. His modernization of modernity would re–route towards a model of communicative action, and a more open rationality of ideal speech acts. Thus, modernization becomes an intellectual/rational project working towards an ideal speech situation."

(Ali Mirsepassi, 2000. Cambridge University Press)

TAGS

2000Anthony Giddenscrisis of modernityEnlightenment projectEuropean Enlightenment • Habermas • institutionalisationinstrumental rationalityIran • John Tomilson • Jurgen Habermas • Marshall Berman • modernisationmodernity • modernization • Occidentalism • Occidentalist discontent • orientalism • Persia • rationalisationrationalityreflexive modernisationtraditionuniversal modernityWestern

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
30 DECEMBER 2008

Understanding the social relations operating within Indigenous communities key to economic development

"Regulation theory has emerged from the conflict between the modernisation and dependency perspectives discussed by Anderson (2002) and Anderson et al. (2005). Regulation theory emphasises the importance of economic and extra–economic institutions in economic development (Skrypietz, 2003), with the accumulation of capital being influenced by state and non–state institutions, and interactions between agents within the economic system (Dana, 2005). Value is placed not only on the economic aspects, but also on understanding the social relations and interactions within industrial economies. The objective of this approach is to develop diverse strategies that are suited to respective societal structure and consequently lead to a maximising of economic development for both distinctive economies as well as the general economy. The modes of development that emerge can reflect the history, values and cultural aspects, and the objectives of the people involved (Anderson, 2002). This suggests that the objective of Maoris, and indeed all indigenous groups, is to develop a diverse range of strategies suited to the unique characteristics of their economy as well as the cultural aspects in which they live, to achieve maximum results not only for themselves but for the economy as a whole."
(Stephen Buckingham and Leo Paul Dana, pp. 178–187, 178 Int. J. Entrepreneurship and Small Business, Vol. 2, No. 2, 2005)

Anderson, R. (2002) 'Entrepreneurship and aboriginal Canadians: a case study in economic
development', Journal of Developmental Entrepreneurship, Vol. 7, No. 1, pp.45–65.

Anderson, R.B., Camp II, R., Dana, L.P., Honig, B., Nkongolo–Bakenda, J–M. and Peredo, A.M.
(2005) 'Indigenous land rights in Canada: the foundation for development?',
Int. J. Entrepreneurship and Small Business, Vol. 2, No. 2, pp.104–133.

Skrypietz, I. (2003) 'Regulation theory and the crisis of capitalism', Book review, Capital and
Class, Spring.

Dana, L.P. (2005) When Economies Change Hands: A Survey of Entrepreneurship in the Emerging
Markets of Europe from the Balkans to the Baltic States, International Business Press,
Binghamton.

TAGS

agencyagreementAotearoa New Zealandautonomyculture • dependency • economic developmententrepreneurship • grievance • IndigenousiwilandMaorimodernisationregulation • regulation theory • settlementsocial changesocietysocio-economicSouth IslandTe Tiriti o WaitangitransformationTreaty of Waitangitribevalues

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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