Since the term “Modern” is used to describe a wide range of periods, any definition of modernity must account for the context in question. Modern can mean all of post-medieval European history, in the context of dividing history into three large epochs: Antiquity, Medieval, and Modern. Likewise, it is often used to describe the Euro-American culture that arises out of the Enlightenment and continues in some way into the present. The term “Modern” is also applied to the period beginning somewhere between 1870 and 1910, through the present, and even more specifically to the 1910-1960 period.
Modernity as a Hope, Modernity as a Doom
Modernization brought a series of seemingly indisputable benefits to people. Lower infant mortality rate, decreased death from starvation, eradication of some of the fatal diseases, more equal treatment of people with different backgrounds and incomes, and so on. To some, this is an indication of the potential of modernity, perhaps yet to be fully realized. In general, rational, scientific approach to problems and the pursuit of economic wealth seems still too many a reasonable way of understanding good social development.
At the same time, there are a number of dark sides of modernity pointed out by sociologists and others. Technological development occurred not only in the medical and agricultural fields, but also in the military. The atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II, and the following nuclear arms race in the post-war era, are considered by some as symbols of the danger of technologies that humans may or may not be able to handle wisely. Stalin’s Great Purges and the Holocaust (or Shoah) are considered by some as indications that rational thinking and rational organization of a society might involve exclusion, or extermination, of non-standard elements.
Environmental problems comprise another category in the dark side of modernity. Pollution is perhaps the least controversial of these, but one may include decreasing biodiversity and climate change as results of development. The development of biotechnology and genetic engineering are creating what some consider sources of unknown risks.
Besides these obvious incidents, many critics point out psychological and moral hazards of modern life – alienation, feeling of rootlessness, loss of strong bonds and common values, hedonism, disenchantment of the world, and so on. Likewise, the loss of a generally agreed upon definitions of human dignity, human nature, and the resulting loss of value in human life have all been cited as the impact of a social process/civilization that reaps the fruits of growing privatization, subjectivism, reductionism, as well as a loss of traditional values and worldviews.
Capitalism caused the Industrial Revolution because industrialization required significant work and investment from individuals and not necessarily the government. This investment from individuals, whose actions were guided by the profit motive, would not have been possible without the emergence of capitalism. A free enterprise economy has five important characteristics. They are: economic freedom, voluntary (willing) exchange, private property rights, the profit motive, and competition.
industrial capitalism as a mode of production consisting of large, centrally controlled accumulations of capital used to finance the means of production for commodities destined for market, using largely wage–labor, and characterized by large scale production, accumulation, and limited private ownership, emerged with a boost.
The growth and evolution of industrial capitalism
Once industrial capitalism had firmly established itself, it experienced a rapid expansion. The principle of competition in the marketplace meant that many who had owned a small workshop went under or barely survived on the margins of the new factory system, while others were more successful, founding further factories, developing new product lines, and coming into wealth. With the expansion of the workforce came the need for supervisors on the shop floor and for experts and managers securing production and a steady flow of orders, for shrewd accountants and circumspect dispatchers.
Expansion also required additional capital. Initially, many entrepreneurs relied on members of their family to provide capital. But with the growth of the banking system financial institutions also became involved in giving loans on a short-term and increasingly on a more long-term basis. Finally, there was the development of the joint-stock company designed to attract investors interested in buying shares that carried higher returns than could be achieved through a savings account. In tandem with financial institutions and manufacturing, industry workers also became more organized
By the late nineteenth century technological innovation and the applied sciences had tangibly changed industrial capitalism. While the older branches of manufacturing (textiles, iron and steel making, coal mining) continued, the new and much more dynamic electrical engineering, chemicals, and machine building had initiated a second phase in the industrialization process.
The rise of electrical engineering, machine building, and chemicals by the late nineteenth century triggered further shifts in production methods and work organization. The working conditions became less disciplinarian and patriarchal and more rational-bureaucratic. Loyalty and expertise became important values that gave employees a voice within the enterprise. While heavy industry remained hostile to the idea of worker representation, the “new industries” began to negotiate with union representatives. It seemed better to secure cooperation in the interest of uninterrupted production than to have a disgruntled workforce that staged a sudden strike. Conversely, workers’ associations, many of which could build on the experience of the guilds, were also interested in the company’s prosperity offering opportunities to negotiate higher wages and job security. In short, a movement toward a more flexible handling of labor relations on the part of some employers coincided with a politically more conservative unionization that preferred gradual reform and an improvement of material conditions to the push of more radical Marxist politicians and intellectuals who wanted to prepare the overthrow of the existing capitalist system.
Imperialism as a by-product-
Imperialism is the expansion of a nation’s authority over other nations through the acquisition of land and/or the imposition of economic and political domination. The Age of Imperialism is typified by the colonization of the Americas between the 15th and 19th centuries, as well as the expansion of the United States, Japan, and the European powers during the late 19th and early 20th century. Throughout history, many indigenous societies and cultures have been destroyed by imperialistic expansion. It won’t be incorrect to state that this ideology of imperialism followed by colonial statistics were developed through the inching of the previous states of mental, physical and military domination by Europe.