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Chapter 2

CMN 2173 Chapter Notes - Chapter 2: Industrial Society, Anthony Giddens, Battlecross

Course Code
CMN 2173
Dina Salha

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2. From Traditional to Industrial Society
Traditional cultures - by which we mean all human societies in the period before
the coming of industrialization - place great importance on the group, social
obligation, and the stability of social rank.
In such societies, individuals are completely dependant upon one another for
Because inheritance is a key means of goods exchange in such societies,
goods are made to last.
With the coming of modern societies, economic relations start to be mediated
through a market that privileges long-term growth and an open-ended future.
Individuals now work within non new-familial or craft settings.
They are paid wages and conduct their exchanges through money rather
than by barter or trade, which permits a wider freedom with respect to their
selection of goods.
Industrialization produces many more goods than craft networks, and over
time these goods are made available not just to elites but to wider sections of
the population.
A fashion system that emphasizes style, novelty, and continuous change
became an important dynamic not just in clothing but all types of goods.
Media and advertising offer a vast array of different styles, offering a
prodigious symbolic outpouring that became readily available to consumers,
who increasingly negotiated their sense of self, affiliation, satisfaction, and
pleasure through commodities.
Pre-Industrial Society in the West
People's behaviours were more regulated by family and close community
Traditional consumption was not particularly thrifty.
In traditional societies where resources continued to be scarce, consumption
was more seasonally and communally oriented.
Traditional societies displayed their wealth in acts of consumption.
Consumption was organized around the social group, rather than the
individual or family.
Goods were produced locally and in limited number.
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Tools of production were handed down from one generation to the next.
Ritual objects were not subject to fashion, but rather were invested with
uniqueness, as possessing eternal and timeless qualities.
The longer the object was in ritual circulation, the more its significance
People, like goods, circulated slowly through traditional cultures and had
relatively fixed meanings.
Mobility was limited.
War and marriage were two of the few channels for social mobility.
Group values (modesty, obedience, religious faith) were prized over
individual values (self-expression, self-esteem, creativity).
Self-transformation through work, enterprise, education, or stardom is a
modern idea.
Sumptuary laws, which restricted the possession of luxury goods to certain
classes of people, testify to the attempts made by early elites to use goods as
explicit markers of social rank.
Limiting the circulation of goods not only maintained privilege but also kept
status competition in check.
Consumption were regulated by availability and dictated by labor, rank, and
Fashion in the 17th and 18th centuries marked social rank.
Clothing was not considered to be an expression of the individual's
personality, and although individual variations in style did occur, they were
not encouraged as they would be in the modern era.
Early Industrial Society
Industrial society emerged within an expanded money economy.
This widespread money economy is seen as particularly important within the
transitions from traditional to industrial society.
The practices and values of the modern marketplace began to support more
independent and impersonal relations between people.
The production cycle was made up of specialized functions.
Division of labour, factory arrangements, and increased use of machines
quickened the pace of production.
Mobility was a key feature of the new marketplace relationships.
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Ideas and practices were exchanged along with goods.
Group traditions supplied not only the means to struggle against degradation
and injustice, but also to retain a foothold in a remembered world via an
elemental coherence fashioned out of custom, venerated objects, ancient
loyalties, and intergenerational memory.
The cultural relativism resulting from the quick amalgamation of so many
different groups, all eroded the viability of older community structures.
Hierarchy, inequality, and power have shaped all societies, but were distinctly
patterned in modern society.
One of the most astute critics of the new relationships of industrial production
was Karl Marx, who marvelled at the immense power of the new systems of
production, seeing in them as offering for the first time in history the means of
unshackling society from scarcity and ameliorating the inequalities and
hierarchies of the past.
Industrial society relies on the more abstract and impersonal relations of the
market to bond people collectively, and thus ritual takes on new meaning and
The accumulation and growth of funds overshadows and disrupts traditional
social bonds.
Max Weber
People's willingness to participate within the new relations of production
was not driven from without but within.
Weber argued that religious ideas from traditional culture did not
disappear, but rather were reworked in the new industrial setting.
Work ethic provided the motivation necessary to build industrial society.
Persons were formed into social classes as a direct result of how economic
and political power was distributed; the lower class was defined by poverty
and oppression, the upper class by wealth and political influence and so
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