Beyond Civilization: Society, Culture, and the Individual in the Age of Globalization

Overview

For Harry Redner, the phrase “beyond civilization” refers to the new and unprecedented condition the world is now entering—specifically, the condition commonly known as globalization. Redner approaches globalization from the perspective of history and seeks to interpret it in relation to previous key stages of human development. His account begins with the Axial Age (700–300 BC) and proceeds through Modernity (after AD 1500) to the present global condition.

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Beyond Civilization: Society, Culture, and the Individual in the Age of Globalization

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Overview

For Harry Redner, the phrase “beyond civilization” refers to the new and unprecedented condition the world is now entering—specifically, the condition commonly known as globalization. Redner approaches globalization from the perspective of history and seeks to interpret it in relation to previous key stages of human development. His account begins with the Axial Age (700–300 BC) and proceeds through Modernity (after AD 1500) to the present global condition.

What is globalization doing to civilization? In answering this question, Redner studies the role played by capitalism, the state, science and technology. He aims to show that they have had a catalytic impact on civilization through their reductive effect on society, culture, and individualism.

However, Redner is not content to diagnose the ills of civilization; he also suggests how they might be ameliorated by cultural conservation. Above all, it is to the problem of decline in the higher forms of literacy that he addresses himself, for it is on the culture of the book that previous civilizations were founded. This study will be of interest to sociologists, historians, and social and political theorists. Its style makes it accessible also to general readers, interested in civilization past, present, and future.

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Editorial Reviews

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“Redner (Monash Univ., Australia) examines how the processes unleashed by globalization are usurping civilization as a means of social organization and mode for arranging identity. He argues that as globalization begins to make the world "unified" and "uniform," it wears away the cultural distinctions that have defined different forms of civilization. As this occurs, the historical foundations of cultural life found in the traditions of world civilizations become threatened with extinction as the civilizations evolve into an undifferentiated, globalized mass culture. Redner's focus is primarily on the rise of Western civilization, particularly since the advent of modernity. Western modernity essentially unleashes a series of social processes that spread globally, such as industrial capitalism, the legal-rational state, and a focus on science and technology. In the wake of this dispersion of modernity, people are left in a "post-civilization" age composed of a culture without depth and a cosmopolitanism without substance. . . . [F]or those interested in a broad overview of the effects of modernity and globalization, the book is indispensable. . . . Highly recommended.” S. C. Ward, Choice “[E]xplores the replacement of unique worldwide civilizations with one unified global culture.” —Book NewsBeyond Civilization challenges us to rethink contemporary world society in the light of the great historical civilizations of East and West and their progressive dissolution and destruction by the combined forces of modernity from capitalism and the state to science and technology. The author opens up productive new perspectives by bringing globalization and civilizational theory together in a mutually illuminating interrogation, which informs and frames the crucial question of the future of civilization in the age of technological globalization.” —David Roberts, author, The Total Work of Art in European Modernism “Will the protean dynamism of modernity finally gobble up culture or civilization? Harry Redner has been stretching our brains over these issues for forty years. Magisterial in scope, critical but generous in inflection, his new book is breathtaking. It takes a life's work to achieve this: here is the book that is its result.” —Peter Beilharz, La Trobe University, Australia
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781412854856
  • Publisher: Transaction Publishers
  • Publication date: 8/31/2014
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 424
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.86 (d)

Meet the Author

Harry Redner was reader at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia and was visiting professor at Yale University, University of California–Berkeley, and Harvard University. He is also author of Totalitarianism, Globalization, Colonialism and many other books.

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Table of Contents

Prelude Part I: The Past History of Civilization 1. An Overview of History Section I—Historical Turning Points Section II—Cultural Consciousness Section III—Countering Critics 2. The Axial Age Section I—The Mystery of the Axial Age Section II—Ethics, Empire, and Literacy Section III—Problems of Literacy 3. Modernity Section I—The Rise of the West Section II—The West and Modernity Section III—In Defense of the West 4. Post-Civilization Section I—The Ambiguities of Modernity Section II—Catalysts Section III— The Events of the Twentieth Century Part II: The Present Predicament of Civilization 5. The Forces of Modernity Section I—A Brief Overview Section II—Capitalism Section III—The State Section IV—Science and Technology Section V— Post-Industrial or Information Society 6. Society Section I—Megalopolis Section II—Social Ranking Section III—Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft Section IV—Friendship, Kinship, and Family 7. Culture Section I— A Historical Introduction to Global Culture Section II—Capitalism and Culture Section III—The State and Culture Section IV— Science and Technology and Culture Section V—The Global and the Local 8. Individualism Section I—The Origins of Individualism Section II—Individualism in the West Section III— Individualization and Atomization Part III: The Future Prospects of Civilization 9. Catastrophes of Nature and Culture Section I—The Uncertainties of Prediction Section II—Jonas and Jonahs Section III—Scenarios of Cultural Disaster 10. The Future as it Might Be Section I—Drifting to Disaster Section II—Restoring Society Section III—Conserving Cultures Section IV—Recovering Individualism Valedictory Remarks Endnotes Index

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