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Volume 20, 2004

World-System Analysis: Contemporary Research and Directions

Gerard Delanty
Pages 165-185

Multiple Modernities and Globalization

What is often called “multiple” modernities is best seen as referring to the different expressions of an increasingly emergent global modernity rather than simply to multiple societal forms. Modernity is not converging into a unitary, homogenous form; rather it denotes an isomorphic condition of common aspirations, learning mechanisms, visions of the world, modes of communication. As such modernity can arise anywhere in the world; it is not a specific tradition or societal form but a mode of processing, or translating, culture. Modernity is a particular way of transmitting culture that transforms that which it takes over; it is not a culture of its own and therefore can take root anywhere at any time. This is because every translation is a transformation of both the object and the subject. The essence of modernity is a capacity to transform culture in a continuous process of translation.