Indirect Relationships and Imagined Communities: Large-Scale Social Integration and the Transformation of Everyday Life
This chapter presents general features of modernity that social theory has pointed to but inadequately thematized and that help to provide a much stronger sociological foundation for grasping some of the phenomena to which postmodern thought calls our attention. Modern political and economic affairs are distinguished by the increasing frequency, scale, and importance of indirect social relationships. The reproduction of embodied but social sensibilities, habituses, is altered as social life comes more and more to be coordinated through indirect relationships. Recognizing the role of indirect relations and imagined communities provides a way to understand the increasing split between everyday life and large-scale systemic integration, thus potentially informing and improving Jurgen Habermas's account of social versus system integration. Perhaps the most important transformation of everyday life in the modern era has been the sharpening and deepening of a split between the world of direct interpersonal relationships and the mode of organization and integration of large-scale social systems.