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The World. A Beginner's Guide

  • ID: 2249482
  • Book
  • December 2010
  • Region: Global
  • 240 Pages
  • John Wiley and Sons Ltd
What is the world of the twenty–first century like now that the centrality of the West can no longer be taken for granted? How were the societies and cultures of today′s world together with their interconnections forged, and what is driving human society in our times? In short, what is the state of the world today as we enter the second decade of the twenty–first century?

This is the first book to deal with planetary human society as a whole. It is a beginner′s guide to the world after the West and after globalization, compact, portable and jargon–free.

It lays bare the sociocultural geology of the world, its major civilizations, its historical waves of globalization, its family–sex–gender systems and its pathways to modernity. It traces the life–courses of men and women on all the continents, from their birth and childhood to their old age and their funeral. It is aimed at everybody who, even with experience, has kept a beginner′s curiosity of the world, to everybody who does not know everything they want to know about it and has the desire to know more.

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Introduction: Humankind and Its World.

I. Why We Are Who We Are: A Socio–Cultural Geology of Today´s World.

The Rock of Civilizations.

The Sinic.

The Indic.

The West Asia.

The European.

The sub–Saharan African.

The Family–Sex–Gender Systems.

Sediments of Six Waves of Globalization.

Modernity and Its Pathways.

A Humanity of Multi–Layered Cultural Agglomerations.

II. World Dynamics: The Drivers of Humankind.

Modes of Livelihood: The Down and Up of Capitalism, and the Rest.

Population Ecology and the Ending of Modern Ecological Emancipation.

The Ethnic and Religious Dynamic of Recognition and Respect.

Politics of Collective Power: State Apotheosis.

Culture: Modernism Globalized, Accelerated, and Chastened.

Channels of Operation.

Global Processes.

1. Flows.






2.Global–national entanglements.

3. Global Action.

3. Global Action.

National Processes.


Population movements (demography).

Distributions: Global, National, Sub–National.

The Growth and Resilience of Nation– States.

III. The Current World Stage.

Scenography: the World Space.

The big players.

1. The Uneven Field of Nation–States.

2. Corporations.

3. Missions and Movements.

IV. Our Time on Earth: Courses of Life.

Birth and Survival.




Youth: Sex and Culture.

A Sexual Geography of the Young World.

Marriage and the end of youth.


Where to Live: The Urbanization of the World.

Making A Living: Classes of Work.

Class Formations of 21st Century Capitalism.

Making A Living: The Rich and the Poor.

Adult Enjoyment : Leisure and Consumption.

The Ruling & the Non–Ruling Generation.

Old age.

Retirement and Pension.

Living Arrangements.

An Ideal 21st Century Life–Course.

Death and After.

Conclusion : How We Got Here, and Where Are We Going?

How Did We Get Here?

Where Are We Going?



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"Göran Therborn's
The World: A Beginner's Guide, a survey of the present state, problems and outlook of the globe by a Swedish master sociologist, is one of the rare books that lives up to its title. It is lucid, intelligent about the future and admirably researched."

Guardian, books of the year 2011

"Therborn's work represents what great comparative/historical sociology is all about. Essential."

"[Therborn] compresses a vast and fascinating range of historical and current world data into a detailed but intelligible account of the changes in planetary human society."
Morning Star

"At a time when historians and economists tend to retire behind the barricades of their increasingly specialized professions, answering the big comparative questions about the pathways into and out of modernity, the global processes of inequality and the forces of possible change have been largely left to the sociologists. In my view, Göran Therborn, probably Sweden's most distinguished social scientist, has made more essential contributions in these fields than anyone else, by a combination of analytical lucidity, common sense and an extraordinary command of international comparative data. For those who have read any of his earlier works, the appearance of a new book is inevitably a major intellectual event."
Eric Hobsbawm

"Göran Therborn has written another of his incredible empirical surveys, this time of the whole world today, in its historical context. He calls it a beginner's guide. Every reader will emerge better equipped to understand the realities of our world, and hopefully to act intelligently in the light of these realities."
Immanuel Wallerstein, Yale University

"We are in an unprecedented world, spanned by a joined–up economy and a global moral community. Professor Therborn – a practical, craftsmanlike sociologist, who works on a human scale – is an ideal guide to our unfamiliar present and future, who, without condescension, makes sense of complexity and turns bafflement into clarity."
Felipe Fernandez–Armesto, University of Notre Dame
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