Acquiring Modernity

An Investigation into the Rise, Structure, and Future of the Modern World


In Acquiring Modernity, Paul B. Paolucci, updating classical theory, examines the nature of modern society. Investigated from a sociological perspective but written in accessible everyday language, this book provides a multifaceted account of what makes modern society what it is, from its historical roots to its current conditions.

Neither traditional classroom text nor a work of detailed erudition for the specialist few, Acquiring Modernity draws on material from known historical events, scholarly research, and recent global developments to tell modernity’s story through topics such as the modern classes, religious practice, relations of gender and race, politics, environmental issues, and economic crises. Valuable reading for anyone interested in understanding contemporary life and society.

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Paul B. Paolucci, Ph.D. (2001), Professor of Sociology at Eastern Kentucky University, has published articles on sociological method, mass media, US foreign policy, racism, and books on Marx’s Scientific Dialectics (Brill, 2007) and Marx and the Politics of Abstraction (Brill, 2011).
Acknowledgements List of Illustrations
1 No Rest Until Modernity is Acquired
2 Speculation Ends, Science Begins
3 Divesting Philosophy’s Ultimate Word
4 The Concept of Society
5 History and Human Development
6 A History of Struggles
7 Mystical Consciousness
8 Illusions to this Day
9 An Inverted World
10 Educating the Educator
11 Windy Idealists and Frothy Youth
12 Middle Class Snobbism
13 Pauperism and Artificial Impoverishment
14 Social Scum
15 Of Souls, Sighs, and Opium
16 The Cult of Nature
17 World Literature
18 Modern Society’s All-dominating Power
19 An Impulse Never Before Known
20 Head of the Movement
21 Absurd Epidemics
22 Swindling Joint-stock Companies
23 Machines
24 Rule of the Towns
25 Feverish Anxiety and Astonishment
26 Solids Melting into Air
27 Civilization and Barbarism
28 Celebrating Orgies, Blood, and Fire
29 Bureaucracy and the Bureaucrats
30 The Economic Existence of the State
31 Democracy for their Truth
32 Parliamentary Disease and the Holy Ghost
33 The Executive Committee
34 Modern Mythology and its Goddesses
35 Rolling Back the Wheel
36 The Goal of Popular Desire
37 National Egoism
38 Every Sect is Religious
39 Disgusting Despotism
40 The Sycophantic Babblers
41 Applying Chemistry to Industry and Agriculture
42 The Measure of Social Progress
43 Defiling Republics
44 A Fetish Dark and Mysterious
45 The World Market
46 The Political Chessboard
47 Throwing Dust in People’s Eyes
48 Gravedigging Megalomaniacs
49 The Sorcerer
50 Prevailing Tendencies
51 Common Ruin
52 Chains, Riddles, Worlds
53 Socialist Sentimentalizing
54 Whether We Want it or Not
55 Afterword
56 Postmodernism?
Everyone interested in understanding the origins of modernity and vital issues facing contemporary society, from professors to their students to the everyday reader.
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