Volume 27, 2011
Modernization in Times of Globalization II
Modernity Confronts Capitalism
From a Moral Framework to a Countercultural Critique to a Human-Centered Political Economy
The term “modernity” is used to refer to the cultural component of modernization, which encompasses also the political component (state formation) and economic component (capitalism). Historical analysis shows that in the phases of merchant and Dutch capitalism the dominant culture provided a religious justification and stimulus to capitalism, the Scottish philosophers provided an ethical framework based on human sentiments, especially empathy. With the secularization and turbulence of the 19th century a series of cultural critiques of the capitalist system emerged in the form of “modernism”, “postmodernism” and finally “global civil society”. Presently, we experience a hiatus between certain counter-cultural movements and the capitalist system as well as an ideological divide and a political impasse between social policy concerns and capitalist priorities. A human-centered cultural framework is proposed to serve as a tool for “civil society” to formulate societally agreed guidelines of political economy.