chapter
Modernity
Pages 1

Paradoxically, because most theorizing about modernity and the modern has been conducted at a lofty level of generalization, the possibilities for an anthropological approach to modernity are extremely rich. Since the late 1970s there has been a growing number of ethnographic studies of quintessentially modern institutions and practicesscientific laboratories, capitalist corporations, consumer cultures, as well as the studies of architecture and planning already mentioned-both within and outside the ‘West’. Needless to say, empirical scrutiny reveals that supposedly modern institutions fail to live up to Weberian expectations of impersonality and rationality, and the anthropology of modernity might go no further than repetitive, if amusing, empirical challenge to Western self-images of modern life. As such it would remain parasitic on those self-images, rather as much other anthropology has remained dependent on *Occidentalist stereotypes of ‘the West’, ‘Western thought’ and ‘Western institutions’.