Giddens and the "detraditionalization" thesis: contrasts

Tradition(al)

Post-Tradition(al)

Closed (cold, repetitive, ritualized)Open (hot, experimental, revisable)
Fate (pre-ordained)Choice (reflexivity)
NecessityContingency
CertaintyUncertainty
SecurityRisk
Differentiated (or organized) culturesDe-differentiated (or disorganized) cultures
The embedded (situated or sociocentric) selfDisembedded (de-situated or autonomous) self
Self under controlSelf in control
VirtuesPreferences
Past orientedFuture oriented
RepetitiveNovel
Traditions have moral forceMorality left to the individual
Unequal access to truth (guardians)Equal access to truth (no guardians)


Important: Giddens does not contrast tradition and modernity. He believes that modernity to this point has in fact been largely traditional, but that now we are moving into a post-traditional time.


Traditional societies are informed by belief in established, timeless orders. These orders are rooted in past events, and are highly authoritative. They exist over and above the individual, and as such are "sacred" in Durkheim's sense of the term. They convey the wisdom of the timeless, and thus cannot be questioned. So, they cannot be modified as the result of some utilitarian or other calculus.

Persons think in terms of external (supra-individual) voices of authority, control, and destiny. There is little freedom of expression outside of the bounds of these voices and the duty that accompanies them.

Those who hold this thesis also hold that we are in the process of detraditionalization. This:


This does not mean that traditions vanish overnight, nor that new ones are not created. Rather, it means that "one of the most powerful legacies of classical social thought is the idea that, with the development of modern societies, tradition gradually declines in significance and eventually ceases to play a meaningful role in the lives of most individual's