Europe is a patchwork quilt, a diversity of national and regional cultures. But Europe is also a common cultural heritage. And it is a culture in the making. The creation of the European Union would not have been possible without this common heritage and the endeavour to have a common future. Paradoxically, Europe’s specificity, its common heritage, is threatened by one of its major exports, the ideology of modernity and modernisation. So a very important task that Europe confronts is to be at the same time modernising and preserving its specificity and variety.
This task is the more arduous because we have, in order to fulfil it adequately, to shrug off outdated interpretations of modernity and modernisation, and to look at tensions and conflicts which are inherent in ongoing modernisation, like the increasing opposition between individual freedom and system-rationality. As our collective representations of the world we live in are time-worn, we have to develop new ones. New images guiding our political choices which make our common future. This book analyses the major tensions which are part of modernisation, the role of the ideology of modernisation in this process, and other collective representations which can be observed in political and economic life. The book ends with some reflections on the choices before us.
Dr. Jan Berting is professor emeritus (Sociology and social policy) of the Erasmus University of Rotterdam. Other publications are: “Fundamentalisme en Democratie” (Fundamentalism and Democracy), 2004, 2006 (in Italian), and “De versplinterde samenleving” (The Fragmentised Society), 2006, and “How to Escape From the Diabolic Triangle” (2010).