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The Emergence of Modernity: A Historically-Based Background, Essay Example

Pages: 6

Words: 1653

Essay

Introduction

When the term ‘modern’ comes into mind, it usually is related to words such as ‘new’, ‘unconventional’, non-traditional and other specific terms that define the path towards taking a new step forward. Through the pages of history, change is a common pattern that denotes both the aspects and condition of development. The emergence of change is most often than not related to the desires of human for a better sense of process of living. As several human civilizations pass on from their common way of living, it is notably undeniable that humans continue to search for something better. As improvement is the largest room in the world, humans always tend to find something to improve among themselves or within their communities.

Through the details of history, it could be realized that exploration is a common factor that identifies one specific era from another. The innate curiosity among human beings continues to provide the people with the desire and capacity to search further until they find what satisfies them. This could be likened to how humans ‘graduated’ from the Stone Age towards a more civilized status as they learned how to create fire, materials used for eating and tools improving the way they catch their food. Gaining the basic needs of the people is one of the many reasons why they explore. The basic human needs include shelter, food, and clothing. With this sustenance, people are able to survive everyday life. Nevertheless, people are not easily contented with what they have. Wanting more, wanting something better infused the desire of the earlier human generations to explore better possibilities to get what they need from what nature provides. From being able to get what they need, there is the highlighted desire to get what they want.

After being able to gain their needs, humans developed the desire to respond to their wants. The birth of ‘wants’ led to more improved options of processing raw materials to develop products that would respond to the expectations of the people. This was when the option of trading products between neighboring regions came into realization (Adem, 2004, p. 130). With all these different steps towards human advancement in relation to responding to matters that interest them most, what specific pattern led to modernity and the way it affects the living condition of the new generation of humans today? This particular query shall be discussed within the context of this written presentation.

What is Modernity?

Modernity, as defined by Charles Pierre Baudelaire, a French sociologist, is a condition of being able to experience life in a state of development (Adem, 2004, p.133). At present, such development is coined to be related to the condition of living that the residents of the urbanized areas experience. Something that is way different from the traditional options of living, modernization implores enjoying the fruits of innovation (Arendt, 2001, p. 101). Most often than not, the primary sector of the society that is able to experience such essence of living are the ones living in the cities.

What is different between the urban and rural areas? The state of commercialism; although commercialism impacts both rural and urban areas, the way it defines the living condition of the people in such areas differ so much. For instance, take note how people in the rural areas settle for the most common forms of products that would simply respond to what they need. Meanwhile, when it comes to the ones living in the cities, being able to gain what they need may not be enough; instead, gaining what they want becomes considerably important. At some point, such value given to wants is even higher when it comes to responding to the desires of urban residents. Relatively, human behavior identifies the capacity of commercialism to affect their ways and conditions of living.

Concepts Leading to Modernity

As mentioned earlier, there are different stepping stones taken into consideration by the human society as they step towards the most compelling changes that led them to realizing the emergence of modernity. Nevertheless, there is one common factor that drove the assumption of change in human living through the pages of history, and that is the constant human desire for ‘something new’ or something that is better than the usual. It was explained earlier that humans developed a want to respond not only to their needs but to their wants as well. Such desire allowed them to become more specific when finding ways to realize the fulfillment of such desires. While there are many different ways by which human desires could be categorized, there is one specific desire that has led towards the distinction of the process that brought about modernity, and that is the desire to lead. Wanting to lead the way or be the cause of change was evident especially among individuals coming from the most prominent societies in history (Carroll, 2000, p. 11). Making a name was something that defined ones’ worth as a person. Relatively, this also led to the condition of thinking that made it possible for particular individuals to desire to be ‘at the top’ of the social strata (Giddens, 1990, p.70). Listed herein are some of the eras in history that specifically led to the emergence of modernity is a particular era that defines the communities people specifically want to live in at present.

Feudalism

This era is characterized by the increased capacity of humans to utilize the agrarian resources presented to them by nature (Kalakowski, 1990, p.81). Honing the soil’s produce to respond to their wants and desires became a common trend among farmers, livestock growers, fishermen and so on and so forth. Being able to bring agriculture a more sophisticated state of operation rather than simply producing food and shelter for humans made it possible for feudalism to advance towards the emergence of capitalism.

Capitalism

Earning from what one works on, this is the idea behind the development of capitalism. Trading became a common trend among neighboring regions so as to allow them to have a taste of what the other regions produce (Kalkowski, 1980, p. 83). For instance, if one region produces wheat and the other is more productive in lumber collection, then the two region could exchange products to make sure that each region is able to create products from the said materials that would suffice both their needs and desires. With more regions engaging in wider-scaled trade, the need to put value on the products became necessary, thus giving birth to the use of money. Back then, gold and silver were enough, however as time progresses, an innovation on creating money [bills and coins] came into existence.

With everything given ‘price’ or value, it has become necessary for people to earn money from what they do in exchange of getting what they need to survive or getting products that would suffice their personal wants. Capitalism was the system that specifically allowed the producers to be in control of the situation. Developing businesses that were established based on the desire to create products that would respond to human wants and needs became a specific source of dependable development that fueled the growth of this era in human history.

Industrialization

With the need to earn money and the businesses growing, industrialization emerges. Industrialization is basically the process by which a particular region becomes developed based on the number of businesses operating within its territories (Eisenstadt, 2003, p.43). The capacity of such regions to handle massive impact of capitalism alongside the culture suggested through commercialism indicates the aspect of a community being considered as highly industrialized.

Globalization and Modernity

From the option of industrializing a region comes the desire to go global. With the value of money being highly recognized in the functioning systems of a society, gaining more control through going global becomes a necessity especially for the highly urbanized regions. Business organizations that are likely fueling the economy of highly industrialized regions specifically aim to extend their control of the market. Globalization then entails the condition by which nations engage in an international aspect of trade whereas the option of living in a modern world becomes a global culture that humans recognize to be necessary and highly acceptable. Fueled further by the assisting aspects of technology and communication, modernity becomes a state of living that humans in most urbanized areas experience.

Conclusion

Overall, it could be understood based from this particular discussion that the emergence of capitalism as it provides humans the chance to incur or gain what they want from the market provided a strong basis for the development of modernity in most societies. Relatively, modernity is a term coined to define, not just an era in history, but a state of living that humans embrace (Horváth, 2013, p. 45). Because of the impact of globalization and the principles that it hones, modernity is a condition of living that is considered most desirable for many human beings. Remaining in rural areas where traditional living could be seen has become a less desired state of survival for many. Hence, the pros and cons of modernity have a strong impact on defining a particular community and the behavior of its people.

References

Adem, Seifudein. 2004. “Decolonizing Modernity: Ibn-Khaldun and Modern Historiography.” In Islam: Past, Present and Future. International Seminar on Islamic Thought Proceedings.

Arendt, Hannah. 2001. “The Origins Of Totalitarianism”. Cleavland: World Publishing Co.

Carroll, Michael Thomas. 2000. Popular Modernity in America: Experience, Technology, Mythohistory. SUNY Series in Postmodern Culture. Albany: State University of New York Press.

Eisenstadt, Shmuel Noah. 2003. Comparative Civilizations and Multiple Modernities, 2 vols. Leiden and Boston: Brill.

Giddens, Anthony. 1990. The Consequences of Modernity. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Horváth, Ágnes, 2013. Modernism and Charisma. Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Jarzombek, Mark. 2000. The Psychologizing of Modernity: Art, Architecture, History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Kolakowsi, Leszek. 1990. Modernity on Endless Trial. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Regilme, Salvador Santino F. Jr.. 2012. “Social Discipline, Democracy, and Modernity: Are They All Uniquely ‘European’?”. Hamburg Review of Social Sciences. Volume 6, Issue 3 & Volume 7, Issue 1. 94-117.

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