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We live in a time of great uncertainty about the future. Those heady days of the late twentieth century, when the end of the Cold War seemed to be ushering in a new and more optimistic age, now seem like a distant memory. During the last couple of decades, we’ve been battered by one crisis after another and the idea that humanity is on a progressive path to a better future seems like an illusion.
It is only now that we can see clearly the real scope and structure of the profound shifts that Western societies have undergone over the last 30 years. Classical industrial society has been transformed into a late-modern society that is molded by polarization and paradoxes. The pervasive singularization of the social, the orientation toward the unique and exceptional, generates systematic asymmetries and disparities, and hence progress and unease go hand in hand. Reckwitz examines this dual structure of singularization and polarization as it plays itself out in the different sectors of our societies and, in so doing, he outlines the central structural features of the present: the new class society, the characteristics of a postindustrial economy, the conflict about culture and identity, the exhaustion of the self resulting from the imperative to seek authentic fulfillment, and the political crisis of liberalism.
Building on his path-breaking work The Society of Singularities, this new book will be of great interest to students and scholars in sociology, politics, and the social sciences generally, and to anyone concerned with the great social and political issues of our time.