The second modern condition? Compressed modernity as internalized reflexive cosmopolitization




Compressed modernity is a civilizational condition in which economic, political, social and/or cultural changes occur in an extremely condensed manner in respect to both time and space, and in which the dynamic coexistence of mutually disparate historical and social elements leads to the construction and reconstruction of a highly complex and fluid social system. During what Beck considers the second modern stage of humanity, every society reflexively internalizes cosmopolitanized risks. Societies (or their civilizational conditions) are thereby being internalized into each other, making compressed modernity a universal feature of contemporary societies. This paper theoretically discusses compressed modernity as nationally ramified from reflexive cosmopolitization, and, then, comparatively illustrates varying instances of compressed modernity in advanced capitalist societies, un(der)developed capitalist societies, and system transition societies. In lieu of a conclusion, I point out the declining status of national societies as the dominant unit of (compressed) modernity and the interactive acceleration of compressed modernity among different levels of human life ranging from individuals to the global community.