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modernization and its discontents
 
Paper instructions:
The Prompt:
Over the course of the semester we have been discussing the theme of “modernization.” In brief, “modernization” refers to the process whereby society was gradually liberated from the medieval bonds of religion, feudalism, and other forms of traditionalism. As we have seen, “modernization” means slightly different things depending on whether we are talking about religion, science, politics, or economics. Also, “modernization” means something a little bit different depending on whether we are talking about the Protestant Reformation, the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution, or the post-World War II era. However, in all periods and in all spheres of society, “modernization” shares many common themes, such as secularization, individualism, and rationalism.
Furthermore, the process of “modernization” is not over. Think back for a moment to our discussions of the transition from Gemeinschaft (traditional communities) to Gesellschaft (modern societies). All around us we see that elements of “traditional” society and being replaced by elements of “modern” society. Some of these developments are clearly positive—the spread of modern ideals of liberty and modern medical technologies to impoverished communities around the globe, for example. Some of these developments, however, are more worrisome—the decline of traditional family structures and the growing impersonalization of work, for example.
For the final essay, I want you to write a 4 essay in which you describe the process of “modernization” since 1500 using historical examples and investigate one particular way in which modernization continues to affect us. Although this is not a research essay—you may base your essay on your personal observations–your essay should incorporate at least some outside research. Your essay should also have a narrow, singular focus. In other words, rather than address multiple issues in a casual way, I want your essay to investigate one topic in depth—for example, the effects of modernization on the quality of a college education, the relationship between modernization and new social media, the stresses of modernization and the epidemic of mass shootings, or the consequences of modernization for American religious traditions.
Format and citation:
Your essay should use an 11 or 12-point standard font (such as Times New Roman or Calibri) and have one-inch margins all around. Use double-spacing. Always justify the left margin but never the right margin. Your essay needs to have your name, a date, and title, but it doesn’t need to have its own cover page.
Your essay should include citations (in-text or footnotes) and a separate works-cited page, even if you have footnotes or endnotes. You may use any format you like—MLA, Chicago, APA, etc.—so long as you pick one and use it consistently. Do NOT make up your own citation system. If you’re not sure how to use a standard style such as MLA or Chicago, look it up online. If you still need help, contact the writing center or me.
Deadline:
All essays are due before midnight on Friday, May 9th in the Black Board Drop Box.