Modernity and Social Institutions

Academic year
Subject Area
Language of Instruction
Mode of Delivery
ECTS Credits
1st Cycle Studies

Recommended Prerequisites

Principles of Sociology and History of Contemporary World

Teaching Methods

This curricular unit aims to encourage the active participation of students in classes. The UC is organized in sessions conducted by the teacher. At the beginning of the semester, students are required to register for either mixed evaluation or the general evaluation regime. Mixed evaluation combines the involvement of students in classes (oral participation), the elaboration of short written pieces  (with use of reference materials allowed), and a final exam.

Learning Outcomes

Overall objectives This unit deals with Western modernity and its social relations and identities/subjectivities, technologies of  surveillance, discipline and domination.Specific objectives The course looks at some key debates on modernity - traditional/modern, individuals and society and at topics such as order, discipline, ethics, subjectivity, identity or labor; the sociogenesis and workings of selected social institutions in contemporary Portugal (the nation-state and the political system, the market, the family, the school), emphasizing their role in the formation of modern citizenship, the dynamics of crisis and institutional responses to the latter.Generic competencies A critical engagement with western modernity and its confrontation with “other modernities”.Specific competencies ability to interpret the phenomenon of modernity; critical view of western modernity; understanding the workings of formal social institutions in Portugal; understanding the postmodernism debate

Work Placement(s)



PART 1 – Rise and Demise of Western modernity

1. The triumphant western  modernity: enlightenment and capitalism: nature, ethics and the subject; science and secularization: the disenchantment of the world; agents of modernization and social domination: metropolis and money

2. Western modernization in crisis: social relations and the discipline of social life: social classes, identities and control technologies and agents; the unfinished modernity: rights and modern citizenship

3. “Other modernities”: postmodernity, modernity/coloniality and transmodernity

PART 2 – Late modernity in Portugal

4. Being modern in Portugal: state, politics, market and consumption; family, school, and the city –Portugal’s modern daily life

5. Portuguese institutions in an age of crisis

Head Lecturer(s)

Sara Alexandre Domingues Araújo

Assessment Methods

Final Assessment
Exam: 100.0%

Continuous Assessment
Report of participation in a conference: 20.0%
Report of participation in a conference exam (consultation of materials not allowed): 30.0%
Summary of a text included in compulsory readings 25% Response to a question in a test (use of bibliographical materials is allowed) 25% : 50.0%


ANDERSON, P. The New Old World. London: Verso, 2011.

ARRIGHI, G. Adam Smith em Pequim: Origens e Fundamentos do Século XXI. São Paulo: Boitempo Editorial, 2008.

GIDDENS, A. As consequências da modernidade. Oeiras: Celta, 1992

LANDER, E. (org.), Eurocentrismo e Ciências Sociais. Buenos Aires: CLACSO, 2005

LATOUR, B. Jamais fomos modernos. S. Paulo: Editora 34, 2009

RABINOW, P. French Modern: Norms and Forms of the Social Environment. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1989. 

SANTOS, B. S. Pela mão de Alice. Porto: Afrontamento, 1994

SANTOS, B:S: Portugal: Ensaio contra a Autoflagelação. Coimbra: Almedina, 2011

SIMMEL, G.A metrópole e a vida do espíritoIn: Fortuna, C. (org.),Cidade, cultura e globalização.Oeiras: Celta, 1997

TOURAINE, A.Crítica da modernidade. Lisboa: Piaget, 1994

WAGNER, P., Sociology of Modernity. London: Routledge, 1994