What Does “Contemporary Society” Mean?

You may have heard the term “modern society,” but what does this term actually mean? After all, what precisely constitutes “modern”? Moreover, what are the characteristics of a modern society? Obviously, there is plenty to wonder about.

In light of this, we will examine these concerns in greater depth, as well as some of the traits, issues, and defining features that the study of contemporary society focuses on.

What Constitutes a Modern Society?

Contemporary is described by Dictionary.com as “being, occurring, or living at the same time; relating to the same time.” In essence, the word “modern society” refers to the society in which we currently reside.

It does not necessarily relate to a specific group of people or culture, but rather to the contemporary situation of humanity as a whole. While the world is comprised of numerous countries with diverse political systems and value systems, the phrase “contemporary society” is used to refer to the overall social tendencies of today.

In sociology, this term is frequently used as a shorthand means to distinguish our historical period from those of the past. Sociologists strive to comprehend contemporary society, its functioning, and its future by analysing the global state of affairs and cultural shifts.

Contemporary Society Attributes

Among the characteristics of contemporary society that sociologists may investigate are patterns that distinguish our society from the past. For instance, globalisation has altered the manner in which nations communicate, interact, and collaborate. The following are some noteworthy trends to investigate:

The Rise of Technology: The internet alone has caused a global transformation. Today, it is feasible to receive breaking news from around the globe in an instant. Moreover, social media has significantly altered the way we interact since it enables people to share their thoughts, information, opinions, and connections with others outside their local communities.
An Expanding Global Economy: While international trade has been prevalent for generations, it has now reached an entirely new level of acceptance. For instance, outsourcing to foreign countries is increasingly a prevalent corporate strategy, particularly among the major businesses that tend to dominate the market nowadays.

The Increasing Dominance of Liberal, Secular, and Individualist Values: In several nations, the days when women were expected to stay at home and raise children while males were the sole breadwinners are long gone. Additionally, traditional gender roles, class hierarchies, and social expectations have been replaced. People now have a more individualised outlook on life. Compared to the prevalent viewpoints of just a few decades ago, modern society has begun to embrace variety and equality, even if equity still remains distant. This expansion of viewpoints has led to a greater push for civil rights, racial justice, and other causes.
Contemporary Society Illustrations
The study of contemporary society also examines significant developments that affect our health and way of life. Examples include the following:

In 1950, the global average life expectancy was approximately 46 years. In the past, only the richest people in the richest countries could expect to reach their seventies. Since 2015, however, significant progress has been made. As a result of medical advancements and improved living conditions for some, the global average life expectancy has increased to 72,5 years.

An increase in literacy is another crucial aspect of contemporary communities throughout the world. In 1820, only about 12% of the world’s population could read and write; by 2016, that number had increased to 86%. Obviously, this is only one statistic used to evaluate education and its worth. Some cultures and peoples place a high priority on oral history and oral storytelling.
Modern Society Problems
As in every other period of history, current society has obstacles. Sociologists must also investigate a period’s social challenges and its efforts to overcome them in order to acquire a comprehensive picture of that period.

Contemporary society is characterised by the following issues:

Social Issues

LGBTQ+ equality
Police violence
Institutional racism
the practise of racial profiling
Gender parity
Xenophobia
Immigrant protection
Indigenous rights
Sex workers’ rights
Climate crisis
Economic Issues

global poverty
The expansion of giant organisations and contraction of small firms.
Income disparity
Distribution and depletion of assets
Political Issues

Drug decriminalisation and legalisation
Gun control
Comprehensive healthcare
Student loan debt forgiveness
The Role of Science and Technology in Modern Society
Moreover, two defining characteristics of contemporary society are the trend toward logical, scientific thought and the pace of technology on a worldwide scale. Both have left an indelible mark on society, in both positive and dubious (if not overtly bad) ways. According to a document produced by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), “By making life easier, science has allowed humans to pursue societal concerns like ethics, aesthetics, education, and justice; to develop cultures; and to better human conditions.” In numerous ways, technology has facilitated communication and democratised the exchange of ideas.

Even while the value of science and technology in modern civilization cannot be emphasised, we must equally consider the other side of the coin. Sociologists explore questions such as:

Has the prevalence of social media created a culture dependent on technology?
If true, how has this changed our interpersonal interactions? Are we better connected because of social media, or has it contributed to an increase in antisocial behaviour?
What impact has technology’s rise had on the workplace? Will working from home become more prevalent in a post-COVID-19 world? What effect will this have on feelings of isolation? If it reduces human touch, will it increase the likelihood of depression?
Sociologists can obtain a deeper understanding of the influence of modern society on the individual by examining these and similar concerns. They can then estimate the direction of future cultural and societal trends based on this information.

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