chapter  3
30 Pages

Early Reflexive Modernity: The Differentiation of Political Reflexivity

WithGorm Harste

This chapter analyses the political reflexivity of modern society in the form of historical questions. It discusses modern political and social theory on the touchstone of historical sociology and conceptual history. Ulrich Beck and Anthony Giddens have advocated the term ‘reflexive modernization’. Reflexive modernizations mean first the dis-embedding and second the re-embedding of industrial social forms by modernity. Beck’s use of Luhmann’s classic distinction between reflection and reflexivity is important insofar as the concept ‘reflexive modernization’ does not imply reflection, but self-confrontation. The differentiations between the functional sub-systems of law, economy, research, mass-media, art, love, military, religion, etc. constitute, according to Luhmann, the risky undertaking upon which modernity is based. Reflection is defined as ‘an operation by which the system indicates itself in contrast to its environment’. Sociologically, the reflection as well as the reflexivity of social events concerns learning processes.