LIfe-modes in a Changing World Order, vol. I-II: The neoculturation of lifemodes during the current transformation of state system and world economy

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For an abstract concerning the book as a whole, see below. The following 9 chapters (app. 700 pp.) are authored by Niels Jul Nielsen; the PUBLISHER'S BLIND REVIEW concerning these chapters is uploaded:

Introduction to the neoculturation of life-modes in a state system under transition
Workers – principal preconditions
Tempcom – from owner-driven to shareholder-based
TechFac – global high-end supplier with one owner
Farmers in processes of neoculturation
Salling in China – China in Salling
Workers’ lives
'Eastern workers'
Executors of endurance and temporariness – owners, managers and public leaders
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ABSTRACT

How can we understand the different ways of life as they unfold in our contemporary society? Has our cultural history given way to nothing else but extreme individualism? Can we comprehend the continual changes in everyday life only as new consumption patterns, fragmented identity groups and global media-based communities?

This book explores the changing forms of everyday life, within a conceptual framework that provides an alternative to the dominant postmodern depictions of ‘liquid’ society? Using the concept of ethnological ‘life-mode’ it shows how daily life and state forms of different societies can be understood, and how changes in our everyday cultures and state systems are not random events but systematically connected. We show how today's life-modes – in complex patterns of coexistence, contradiction and complementarity – actively contribute to changing the world as we experience it. Our goal is to seek a deeper understanding of why some groups and cultures, including those which were once the traditional core of society, become marginalized, while others are favoured and privileged as part of new political agendas. We seek to show why and how the political system seeks to intervene, and how these interventions operate to change, sustain, or at times undermine once viable ways of life.

The book argues for a fundamental rethinking of basic social scientific concepts such as praxis, mode of production, life-mode, state and transformation (termed ‘neoculturation’). It is based on extensive ethnographic fieldwork conducted in several sites between 2013 and 2020. The field data comes primarily from Denmark, and especially from a region that was studied in-depth in the late 1970s. In our return to the field to investigate the fundamental changes in a regional Danish economy, we conducted interviews and made observations among families, businesses and public authorities. These data provide insight not only into the kind of lives that are being lived today, but also how these have undergone profound change over the past half-century.

The changes in the everyday lives of ordinary people at the local level are not just descriptive, however. They are systematically explored in relation to the Danish state's own project of remaining a significant and recognized entity in the international state system. The state thus has two ‘faces’, one facing outward toward other states, the other facing inward in the form of interventions and policies which can favour or undermine various life-modes. Hence, the book gives an insight into how a Scandinavian welfare state has navigated the tension between internal and external tensions in the decades where a national industrial society became a global, neoliberal society integrated into a world economy. The global dimension, crucial for state forms and life-modes in the fluctuating state system, is concretely illustrated using China's development and especially its relationship with Danish manufacturing industries. For instance, fieldwork was carried out in companies that have branches in both Denmark and China. This has enabled to obtain insights into life-modes in China and into the operation of the Chinese state, which, despite its capitalist market economy, organizes its production, society and state in a way quite different from that of Denmark and other Western societies. Like different life-modes set conditions for each other, also the Chinese state’s alternative mode of ‘running’ society sets conditions for us in our world. Hence, what began as optimistic forms of integration and cooperation have now led to protectionist measures, leading to new major consequences for the different life-modes and forms of everyday life in Danish as well as other Western societies.


Original languageDanish
PublisherAalborg University Press
Number of pages1,500
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2022

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