Theory and Society

, Volume 40, Issue 4, pp 417–436 | Cite as

Self-limitation of modernity? The theory of reflexive taboos

  • Ulrich Beck
  • Natan Sznaider


This is not an introductory text in cosmopolitan sociology, but a next step into a cosmopolitan sociology, which preserves modernity, trying to construct taboos. It is a matter, therefore, of taboos and of which taboos can and should be justified, when it’s a question of not abandoning the basic principles of modernity to erosion. An almost ebullient cultural criticism, which declares the concepts human being, humanity, freedom, individuality to be Western mechanisms of repression, argues and criticizes within the horizon of a stable economic-technical civilization and society whose existence was never called into question. But is that still the case? In the face of the new world risks will not the reflexivity of a modernity vehemently calling itself into question necessarily also become aware of its own limits? At issue is the problem of a self-limitation of modernity: How are post-traditional, reflexive taboos made possible? Modernity must become aware of its own threatened modernity, of its own sacredness, which also involves the question of a transcendental horizon.


Second Modernity After-modernity Cosmopolitization Human genetics Holocaust 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut für SoziologieUniversity of MunichMunichGermany
  2. 2.School of Behavioral SciencesAcademic College of Tel AvivTel AvivIsrael

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