.. d the religious persuasion of the ruling party be brought to bear against nonbelievers. The church’s diminishing power let new ideas flourish that would have been thought heresy before. Science was no longer held back by the doctrines of organized religion. One hallmark of the modern age is rapid technological change. Science, free of religious scrutiny, made leaps and bounds. Science was applied to everyday life to save time and energy.
All sectors of industry mechanized to increase output. Medicine made huge advances, drastically cutting the infant death rate. Medical advances were responsible for extending the average lifetime. Now there were more people surviving to adulthood and living longer lives. Scientific theories made modern societies understand the universe more. In the modern age, the focus is on consumption.
The average person rents their talents out to an employer in exchange for income. The consumer exchanges this income for goods and services. The consumer is completely dependent on the market for his/her basic needs. Compare this to the premodern peasant, who was basically self-sufficient in food production and shelter. Thus, people living in modern societies are more specialized; they get paid for their skills and buy all other goods and services. The price of this specialization is greater efficiency yet at the price of being dependent on the producer.
With mechanization brought on by rapid technical advance, relatively few workers could produce huge excesses. Now longer would huge sectors of the population be required to work in food production. With fertilizers, machinery, hybrid plants and pesticides less than five percent of the population could feed the society. This freed workers for the growing manufacturing and service sectors. The manufacturing sector increased its output to meet the need of the growing population. The market economy absorbed this new output, setting the lowest possible price for the best possible product.
However, the economy was more and more driven by the pursuit of profit. Whoever owned the means of production, land and machinery, got rich while others were forced to rent themselves out as workers. The first capitalists worked their employees as much as they wanted to. The capitalists had all the cards; the workers were desperate for money to spend in the new market driven economy. The result was the capitalists growing incredibly rich while the workers lived below poverty line.
This rich-poor gap became one of the main argument in the modern age. Changes in the social institutions marked the modern age. Democracy made all people equal, in theory. The United States of America instituted a revolutionary program of mandatory education in the mid-ninetenth century. Education, once reserved for the upper class, now was universal.
Almost everyone could read and write. Ideas of the great thinkers of the ages were open to the most humble. In theory, the poorest immigrant child could educate themselves and become rich, filling a niche in the new capitalist market. While the birth rate climbed by the beginning of the modern age, it eventually began to decline. Children were now though of as an economic burden rather than free labor. Each child required more money spent for clothes, food and education.
The size of the family declined rapidly. The older generation were moved out into retirement homes after they could not work. The family consisted of just the parents and children. Despite the modern age’s advances, it had many critics. Karl Marx is on of the most famous. He directly confronted the capitalist market economy as exploitive.
Marx believed that while it was human nature to work, it must be for a higher goal that simply to fuel consumption. One of Marx’s contemporaries was Emile Durkheim. It was Durkheim who first coined the word anomie. Anomie is used to describe the feeling of disenchantment with the modern world. Traditional belief systems, such as the Catholic church, of the past provided a meaning to life.
However, modern society has largely discredited most tenets of organized religion. People no longer can easily answer what the meaning of life is. Life in a modern society has become increasingly shallow. Religion has been replaced by consumerism and greed as the sole purpose of living. Disgust with the capitalist market economy gave rise to an alternative: socialism.
Socialism was a social experiment that started in Imperial Tsarist Russia. The Bolsheviks, guided by Marx’s works, seized the power from the Russian provisional government after the collapse of the Imperial monarchy. They instituted the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, a huge socialist empire in the early twentieth century. The doctrine of the Soviet Union was to supply each citizen with a job, free health care, and a social safety net. Machinery and land was all owned by the state, so workers were all employees of the government.
Each worker in a field was paid exactly the same as the other workers. The state provided for everything. However, the Soviet Union was fanatically protective of its borders, having been invaded three times in one hundred fifty years. The Soviet Unions spent roughly fifteen percent of their output on the military while other sector of the economy were neglected. The Red Army of the Soviets was numerically superior to any force that the Western Europe and the United States could raise. The only thing that kept the balance was that modern, mechanized, nuclear war would mutually destroy both sides.
Each side had enough firepower to destroy the Earth twelve times over. The benefits of winning a war was off set by the disadvantage of waging the war. The world was chose which side to affiliate to, while being poised for thermonuclear war. The post modern period began on an exact year: 1992. In 1992, the Soviet Union crumbled from internal and external pressure. Western capitalism had proved more effective than Soviet style socialism.
Huge sectors of the globe were opened to trade that had previously been denied by ideological differences. Eastern Europe, parts of Africa and Asia, and Russia were all opened to western corporations. Companies rushed in to exploit the mineral wealth of the fallen Soviet empire. Quicker to exploit were the vast three hundred fifty million people living in Eastern Europe and Russia. Decades of shortages from an inefficient state run economy made the people hungry for material things. In Western societies, manufacturing jobs move overseas, while the service sector grows. It is far cheaper to make something in a developing country that to produce it at home.
America , for example, is the most technologically advanced society in the world. It has put a man on the moon and to the depth of the ocean, yet it does not produce a calculator or a television domestically. America dominates in high tech industries such as software design and biotechnology. As American workers become more and more involved in their jobs, they have little time for other things. They must pay people to change their oil, upgrade their computer or paint their house. Thus the service sector has increased.
The post modern is also referred to as the post industrial age due to the decline of manufacturing. Ideology in the post modern is irrelevant. China, the last bastion of socialism, is one of the United States’ greatest trading partner. In theory, they should mutually hate each other, yet there is to much money to be had. Western companies see the one billion people in China as a huge market ready to be exploited. Chinese workers can turn out products at a lower cost than their American counterparts.
The ideology is less important than the money. The Internet is a huge part of the post modern world. Using the Internet, everyone can access the aggregate sum of knowledge that is stockpiled on the Internet. It is fairly cheap, yet it crosses borders. The Internet is a medium for the free exchange of ideas. It can reach every corner of the globe.
Villages in Siberia that are inaccessible by cars can set up a satellite link and be connected just as well as a user in New York. Worldwide trade and the Internet are killing the unique cultures that exits on Earth. Just as China trades with its ideological enemy, other cultures are shedding their uniqueness in the name of easier communication. Cultural idiosyncrasies hinder trade. Traditional folk dress look peculiar among business suits.
For example, the traditional drink of Russia was kvass, a dark bread beer. After the Soviet Union and the normalization of trade, Coke and Pepsi was introduced by Western business. Now, it is impossible to buy kvass in Moscow, as it was displaced by the distribution muscle of Coke and Pepsi. Children also are the weak link to keeping cultural tradition alive. The traditional folk customs are associated with the parents and the children strive to break away from this tradition. Given forty years time, the entire world will look exactly the same; one can travel from the US to the most remote location possible and it will be impossible to tell the difference once one got there.
An excellent example of post modern society is Los Angeles. LA is a superficial hyper-comsuer culture. Each individual has the notion that they are the center of the universe. Everyone is a manipulative user who only cares about themselves. Each person strives for material wealth at the expense of each other. People are defined by the cloths that they wear.
If one wears Ralph Laren, the people that he/she meets will check the label to make sure it is real. Appearance is everything. Los Angeles is the cosmetic surgery capital of the world. Many of the women have had breast implants, and even some of the men have surgically improved their features. Breast implants actually deaden the sensation of the breast, so they actually decrease sexual pleasure in the user. However people continue to get implants, sacrificing sensation for improved appearance. The post modern is by no means the final stage of human development.
Hopefully, humans will move past the greed of material possessions. Eventually, a balance will be found between ethnic identity and global monoculture. Rampant consumerism comes at a high price. The material wealth that America enjoys is at the cost of a huge amount of resources. If other countries try to join in on the prosperity, severe damage to the ecology could result. Imagine one billion Chinese, all driving cars.
The world can only support a certain amount of people at the prosperity of Americans. The continual expansion of the world economy at the end of the twentieth century is pushing all nations to wealth yet there is no way for all to enjoy such prosperity, something must give. Sociology Essays.