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Identities and Modernizations

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Edited By Tadeusz Buksinski

This book presents insights and understandings on the issue of identities and modernizations, contributed mainly by theoreticians from China and scholars from Central and Eastern European countries. Both regions have followed a similar path towards modernization until the second half of the twentieth century. The past experience in both regions leads to two crucial, yet paradoxical conclusions: Firstly, no modernization of economy, technology or science is possible without a prior modernization of the collective identity, i.e. of culture, tradition, religion and spirituality in general. Secondly, effective and long-term modernization cannot be achieved with disregard for tradition, culture, religion and spirituality. The theory of dispersed modernity is promoted.

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Introduction

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The problem signalled in the title of the book is a vital one, pertaining both to individuals and communities. Some societies have been struggling with it for hundreds of years, others – only for decades. It is found invariably in all socie- ties, though, and varied measures have been implemented to resolve it. The essence of the problem is how modernization can be achieved while preserving collective identity. Some deny that this is ever possible, since modern- ization – by its very definition – involves the replacement of the old (traditional, obsolete) with the new in the spheres of civilization (economy, technology, sci- ence) and in the culture. Others, however, point out that collective identity itself has been changing and modernizing throughout the centuries independently on modernization processes in the areas of civilization. In this development col- lective identity becomes more open and tolerant towards difference, and also more rational. Finally, there are scholars who claim that every original modern- ization process presupposes a specific identity substantially friendly to modern- ization. In a more extreme version the theory assumes that collective identities are a driving force for modernization. They harbour a modernization potential that provides a foundation for the initiation of processes aimed at modernizing the entire field of social life. The present book is a collection of papers that were presented during the academic conference held in Poznań on 13–15 September 2012. The publication has a very specific theme: it is a confrontation of insights and understandings contributed by theoreticians from...

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