Anthony Giddens has provided extensive thought on the topic of modernity, particularly on the institutional dimensions of modernity. Giddens’ relies on several basic assumptions in his dicussion of modernity:

  • Giddens closely relates modernity to Westernization of the world. He defines modernity simply as, ‘modes of soical life or organization which emerged in Europe from about the seventeenth century onwards and which subsequently became more or less worldwide in their influence.’
  • Giddens objects to the idea that we are in a postmodern era, instead maintaining that we are in an era of late modernity.
  • Giddens distinguishes between modern institutions and pre-modern institutions.

Dimensions of modernity

Giddens maintains that the dynamism of modernity is reliant on the following:

  • Separation of time and space, the condition of time-space distanciation;
  • Disembedding of social systems – The lifting out of social relations from local context.
  • Reflexive appropriation of knowledge/Reflexivity – A process through which social practices are constantly examined and reformed.


For Giddens, globalization is a process through which local and distant social forms and events become more stretched than in previous periods. “Globalization can be defined as the intensification of worldwide social relations which link distant localities in such a way that local happenings are shaped by events occurring many miles away and vice versa.”