We live in a time of great uncertainty about the future. Those heady days of the late 20th century, when the end of the Cold War seemed to be ushering in a new and more optimistic age, now seem like a distant memory. During the last couple of decades we’ve been battered by one crisis after another and the idea that humanity might be on a progressive path to a better future seems like a grand illusion.
And yet it is only now, as disillusioned citizens try to make sense of the new political landscape, that the real nature of this reversal is beginning to reveal itself: contemporary societies have undergone a profound structural shift over the last 30 years, in the course of which classical industrial society has given way to a new kind of modernity that is oriented toward the particular and the unique. But the pervasive singularization of the social also generates systematic asymmetries and disparities. Reckwitz examines this dual structure of singularization and polarization as it plays itself out in the different sectors of our societies and, in so doing, he outlines the central structural features of the present: the new class society, the characteristics of a postindustrial economy, the conflict between culture and identity, the exhaustion resulting from the imperative to seek authentic fulfilment, and the crisis of liberalism.Building on his path-breaking work The Society of Singularities, this new book will be of great interest to students and scholars in sociology, politics and the social sciences generally and to anyone concerned with the great social and political issues of our time.