Comparative Sociology of Modernity

This line of investigation aims at advancing the analysis of the contemporary plurality of societal self-understandings and related institutional structures of polities in the current global context. It will analyze these self-understandings against the background of the historical trajectories – as sequences of socio-political transformations – of those societies. The comparative analysis of socio-political forms of modernity is the major challenge to current social and political theory and comparative-historical, political and cultural sociology. Scholars tend to either underestimate variation and succumb to ideas of global trends of ‘neo-modernization’ or overestimate historical continuities and provide some culturalist explanation of ‘civilizational’ difference.
In this light, the main objectives in this line of investigation are:

  • to complement the prevalent institutional analysis of modernity with an interpretative approach that focuses on societal self-understandings, and to elaborate an understanding of how novel such interpretations emerge and how they contribute to reshaping institutions;
  • to disentangle the overly complex concept of modernity into components that are empirically analyzable in terms of both commonalities shared by all ‘modern societies’ and differences that are due to the variety of possible interpretations of modernity;
  • to analyze selected non-European societies in terms of their specific articulations of these components of modernity and their historical transformations;
  • to confront analyses of European modernity with the new analyses of non-European modernities with a view to laying empirically rich foundations for a global sociology that recognizes the specificity of the European trajectory of modernity but does not confuse it with a model or a unique interpretation.


Until 2105 reseach activity in this line was concentrated in the Project Trajectories of Modernity: comparing non-European and European varieties (TRAMOD) At the present research work is focused in the Project The Debt: historizing Europe's relations with the "South"