THE SATURATED SOCIETY
Second Edition with a New Foreword
Why is it so difficult to implement policies on lifestyles to advance the common good in modern societies? Our own desires and choices are threats against which we must protect ourselves. Obesity, addictions, and preventable health problems depend on cultural practices. Culture has become a threat to itself. Technological advances have turned this threat into a crisis but the issue of individual freedom and public regulation of lifestyles is as old as modern society. This book analyses the problem in terms of a conflict between autonomy and intimacy. The conflict becomes violent in the saturated society, as one individual’s intimacy undermines the autonomy of others by harming them. The book is an attack on the ‘endisms’ fashionable at the end of the millennium. It offers a dialectical alternative for understanding social change. The alleged endings of progress, the nation state and reason that postmodernists extolled (and some critics lamented) were not departures from the struggles for modernization which began with the French Revolution. The postmodernist discontent with modernity emerged itself from the success of these struggles. Their aim has been, and still is, the principle of individual agency as the justification for the modern social order. As against the gloomy predictions by mass society theorists the book offers an optimistic outlook for democratic and liberal solutions to the tension between individual differences and social pressure towards uniformity.