Die Refiguration der Moderne

In: Jahrbuch für Europäische Ethnologie

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The Refiguration of Modernity

By using the term refiguration, we aim to make a distinct contribution to explaining the fragility of contemporary social orders. Further to observing mere fragility, refiguration denotes a process of restructuring, which results from the tension between two or more figurations. Refiguration implies a certain fragility (which is the subject of this yearbook), because it describes the tension between different figurations. However, refiguration goes beyond this tension and describes the change arising from the tension. Following an introductory classification of the concept, the concept of figuration will therefore be outlined in more detail. Reference will initially be made to Elias, who developed the concept. We will also cite its more recent applications as “communicative figurations” though, which allow the dramatic changes in the wake of present-day digitalization to be identified. This certainly contributes to an increase in tension that already existed earlier. In western societies, this tension can be observed in the most varied polarizations, such as those between modern and late modern or postmodern societies. They can be most clearly seen in the spatial principles of territorial (for example, national) boundaries and the translocal (for instance, global) removal of boundaries, so that refiguration increasingly replaces what was considered to be the inexorable process of globalisation.