A masterpiece - this sober but engaging book offers a renewal of social theory and a fresh impulse for historical-comparative sociology at the same time. Essential reading for all those who look for a better understanding of the twentieth century as well as for the modernity, democracy and capitalism of our time.— Peter Wagner, ICREA Research Professor in Social and Behavioural Sciences, University of BarcelonaArnason provides an erudite and profound meditation on modernity and its multiple forms. This is one of the most important books of our time, examining the lineages and various combinations of the economic, political and cultural spheres in the various passages to modernity. It provides powerful insights on economic transformations, state development and ideational contestation to generate a strikingly original analysis of the civilisations of modernity, including those that have failed and those that compete today.— Richard Sakwa, Professor of Russian and European Politics, University of KentThis book is a wonderful and indispensable guide through the ever-expanding discourse on modernity. Based on his stupendous knowledge of philosophical traditions on the one side and on his great expertise as a historical sociologist on the other, Arnason right now is certainly the most innovative and important scholar in linking theoretical and empirical arguments.— Wolfgang Knöbl, Hamburg Institute for Social Research and Leuphana University Lueneburg
This an important and wide-ranging essay, defeating any simplifying or reductionist account of modernity and its relation to the dynamics of polities, civilizations and global processes, as well as, ultimately, world history. Combining analytical acuity with a tremendous scope of comparative historical interpretation, and building upon the giant contributions of Norbert Elias, Cornelius Castoriadis and S. N. Eisenstadt in particular, Johann Arnason succeeds to not only guide us through the complexities and varieties of modernity but also develop a supple and multi-layered conceptual approach to the meanders of its historical phases and trajectories, thereby powerfully expanding the horizons of contemporary cultural and world historical theory.