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reflexive modernization

  A term coined by the British sociologist Anthony Giddens (1990, 1991), to describe the tendency in western industrial societies to continually revise most aspects of social activity, arising out of the proliferation of organizations and technologies which generate new information or knowledge. This continual revision is not incidental to modern social institutions but is constitutive of them because the certainty of the knowledge they must utilize is constantly being undermined by new knowledge. In turn, this process of continual revision leads to the generation of new ways of life that are able to cope with this condition of uncertainty (and most especially new forms of reflexive individualism) and equally to new risks to society that are constantly being generated by the application of specialized knowledges which can only ever have partially understood consequences.

Such a depiction of modernity has much in common with Ulrich Beck\'s notion of a risk society which also utilizes the notion of reflexive modernization (see especially Beck, Giddens and Lash, 1996). (NJT)

References Beck, U. 1992: Risk society. Towards a new modernity. London: Sage. Beck, U., Giddens, A. and Lash, S. 1996: Reflexive modernisation. Cambridge: Polity Press. Giddens, A. 1990: The consequences of modernity. Cambridge: Polity Press. Giddens, A. 1991: Modernity and self-identity. Cambridge: Polity Press.



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