chapter  16
12 Pages

The end of a Sensate Age – what next?

In a world of rapid social change, even social crisis, the work of Sorokin takes on a new relevance. He was a prolific author whose work fell into disrepute at the time when Parson’s theories prevailed and the USA was beginning to enjoy the fruits both capitalism and the Enlightenment. But it was this that led Sorokin, who himself was of peasant stock but strove become both a revolutionary and an international scholar, to question what was occurring. For him, the wealth and inequality of the world was a sign of the end of the age and that it would soon change from a sensate to an ideational age. His was a cyclical theory of change which is not a strong theory, but it provides the starting point for what I want to discuss in this paper. At the same time, I will turn to another book written nearly twenty years later that explores much of the same ground as Sorokin – Martin’s (1981) A Sociology of Contemporary Cultural Change – and reaches a different set of conclusions.