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  1. Age of Fracture
  2. Age of Fracture or Age of Counterrevolution?
  3. Corey Robin reviews ‘Age of Fracture’ by Daniel Rodgers · LRB 25 October
  4. Eric Miller

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Age of Fracture

Age of Fracture Daniel T. It was written by Daniel T. Rodgers and published by Belknap Press. It won the Bancroft Prize. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Age of Fracture Author Daniel T. Further reading [ edit ] Boyer, Paul S. July Modern Intellectual History. Brick, Howard November American Historical Review. Bryson, Dennis Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences.

Danchev, Alex March 10, The Times Higher Education Supplement : Jumonville, Neil December Journal of the History of Ideas. Karel, Thomas A. Library Journal. On gender, the breakdown was internal to the movement. If everything is socially constructed, nothing has a foundation. In the academy, Allan Bloom railed against the nihilistic deconstruction of everything in The Closing of the American Mind. Conservative think tanks began looking to local communities as sources of civic republicanism. Evangelicals saw the church as the center that could and must hold.

Learned, wide-ranging, delightful to read, full of keen little insights and epoch-defining bundles of nouns. But it leaves open the question: is the fracture permanent?


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All the great political trade-offs — liberty vs. Rodgers leaves us at the moment in which a hunger for a rootedness in history seems to be growing. Have we gone as far as individualism will take us? And if so, what takes us back? And am I the only one wondering this? Jul 07, Joshua Buhs rated it really liked it Shelves: social-issues , history , non-fiction.

Daniel T. Rodgers takes on a very difficult task--writing about the very recent past from a historical perspective--and does so really well. He is able to step outside the current ways of thinking--our controlling metaphors--and show how they came into being, what they illuminate and what they make difficult to see. The book touches upon social history, sociology, political history, and public policy--he's dealing with on-going debates, so it's had to divvy these subjects up--but this Brilliant.

The book touches upon social history, sociology, political history, and public policy--he's dealing with on-going debates, so it's had to divvy these subjects up--but this is primarily an intellectual history. And yet it often reads as good as narrative history. Really, really well done. Rodgers begins with what are essentially two introductory chapters, the first outlining his argument, the next giving it concrete form. He argues that in the midth century, the controlling ideas were about conformity and system. There was a rich--thick, lived--idea of community of responsibility of nation and work.

This was not necessarily a better way of thinking about the world--after all, these ideas were used to justify apartheid int he American South and institutionalized misogyny, as well as other evils--but it was the way it was. There was a civic religion based around shared symbols, such that even dissenters--such as Martin Lither King, Jr. In the early and mids, this shared vision started to change, and what emerged was a sense of society as thin, of responsibilities as non-existent, of interactions as driven by markets, of social identity fragmented and intersectional.

Age of Fracture or Age of Counterrevolution?

The second chapter charts some of these changes through the political rhetoric of Ronald Reagan--not necessarily with him as a shaper of the changes, but as an example of the trend. Presidential rhetoric itself was relatively new, with Reagan giving as many speeches in his presidency as all the presidents of the nineteenth century combined. Reagan's language owed something to what came before, but where all presidential rhetoric since the end of World War II addressed the Cold War as both a chance for freedom to grow as well as a responsibility for the nation to carry, Reagan and his speechwriters downplayed responsibilities.

History was not a constraint, but a river--a story--giving birth to the present time in which all one should do was--in the words of Joseph Campbell, who doesn't get mentioned in the book, but should--is follow one's bliss. As my conjoining of Campbell and Reagan suggests--and as Rodger's argument implies--tis change wasn't necessarily driven by either the left or the right, but both, in some ways, though the changes had varying effects on the different partisans. He does not acknowledge, but seems to assume, that the last quarter of the 20th century is a profoundly conservative moment, even as the meaning of conservatism has changed drastically over the last three decades.

He then goes on to show the fracturing of social mores in a host of different arenas. First is the rise rise of micro-economics and the change of economics to a focus on the so-called market. In the past, economics had been about a system for organizing labor, capital, and technology. But now it is mostly about considering individual choices within a so-called perfect market.

Rodgers pegs the change to the inflation of the s, which defied explanation by the then-reigning Keynesian economics. This opened a wedge for theorists--primarily associated with the University of Chicago--to offer a different view of economics based on individual choice and markets. The initial studies, for the most part, were hedged with qualifiers, but as they were taken up, by both conservative and liberal intellectuals, these caveats were ignored, until market-thinking became the dominant explanation for all manner of social behaviors--and indeed the very notion of social seemed unnecessary.

Rodgers then moves on to how notions of power changed--from something that one possessed and used to something that was all around, and likely unchangeable. Foucault, of course, is a prominent part of this change, but there were other theorists working along the same line, including Clifford Geertz and futurists.

The next two chapters are probably the weakest--though still provoking. They deal with notions of race and gender, and discuss how the rise of debates over diversity, intersectionality, and individuality made these categories problematic, which in turn made unified political action difficult. Rodgers hits most of the main highlights here, but the chapters don't cohere as well and the narrative structure of them is hard to find, making them seem more a compendium or chronicle than an explanation. The last two chapters are the most creative, addressing material that is not often--if you were involved with higher education in the s or s, you have a sketchy understanding of some of the above debates, but the last two chapters touch on material I haven't seen discussed before in this context.

The first deals with political theory, including the unexpected rise of libertarianism, which was more influential than its numbers would suggest. He again compares current and developing notions with those of the midth century, when America was seen as a unified nation made up of competing interest groups. As well, there was the idea--capped by Rawls--that society should be just. Libertarians argued that he outcome of social processes did not matter so much--it was the means, not the ends, and as long as the means were just and made without coercion, the system worked.

Liberals and conservatives, to varying extents.


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Leftists argued for smaller communities, in which individuals had responsibilities to each other. Conservatives were often offended by libertarians' dismissal of tradition and so ended up in the same intellectual place as many individuals, arguing for small communities--something more than the individual, but less than the family--although over time libertarian thought did influence conservatives more and more.

Finally, Rodgers looks at the notion of time, and how it too has been folded and made small in the last quarter century. Debates over multiculturalism and the inclusion of forgotten groups into the story of America made it nearly impossible to write a synthetic narrative history of America, and so history itself was fragmented.

Corey Robin reviews ‘Age of Fracture’ by Daniel Rodgers · LRB 25 October

At the same time, postmodernism and originalism dissolved notions of time from different ends of the political spectrum, with postmodernism arguing that objects from all different eras could be combined, and constitutional originalists arguing it was possible to erase the gaps between 18th century politicians and today. That's an example of Rodgers' creativity, pitting postmodernists against jurists like Antonin Scalia. And then there was the fall of communism--the so-called 'end of history--and the attempts to bring the rebuild the formerly communist countries.

Basing their ideas on the prominence of the market--ignoring history and tradition and politics--the engineers of this change insisted that the countries should be switched over immediately and quickly, with no gradual change: time should play no role. A coda brings the story of Rodgers notes that for a time, the older values were again put into service; there was talk of obligation, the weight of history, the importance of nations, the need to sacrifice.

But this talk waned within a decade--although not completely. What he sees going on now is a renegotiation, a way of blending the two discourses. It remains to be seen wether one will win, or the other, or some third thing yet come to be. May 09, Scott rated it it was amazing. A really well-crafted intellectual and cultural history of late twentieth-century America Rodgers traces the fracturing of the big concepts and metaphors that were key to political rhetoric and social analysis. Talk of national commitments and obligations gave way to individual choices and smaller communal identities, the science of macroeconomic planning lost out to microeconomic models of individual choice, race and gender became harder to define, and power became more difficult t A really well-crafted intellectual and cultural history of late twentieth-century America Talk of national commitments and obligations gave way to individual choices and smaller communal identities, the science of macroeconomic planning lost out to microeconomic models of individual choice, race and gender became harder to define, and power became more difficult to explain.

Some thinkers replaced a consciousness of the long processes of history with the hopes of bringing the past immediately to the present or taking a quick route to the future. Rodgers builds his argument through topical chapters that also have impressive interconnections, giving at least the impression that he has mastered the key ideas in each field I will certainly defer to experts in these areas.

One of the key achievements is showing how these trends affected thinkers across the political spectrum: the characters in his narratives include second- and third-wave feminists, conservative evangelical Christians, the American Catholic bishops, dueling legal thinkers, neoconservatives, and neoliberal economists. We also see how school vouchers and constitutional originalism were advanced by left-of-center thinkers before becoming mainstays of conservative thought.

Yet it no longer had the deep mid-twentieth-century foundations in a culture shaped by the trends of fragmentation. One doesn't have to fully buy into the big models and concepts of the mid-twentieth century to be edified by Rodgers' exploration of their transformation. Nov 05, Mike Hankins rated it liked it. In this intellectual history of the latter twentieth century focusing more on the 70s into the 80s , Daniel Rodgers paints a bleak picture of disintegrating ideas and growing confusion. As the prosperity of post-WW2 consuption started to die out, previously honored economic models like Keynesian economics were perceived to be failing.

Without a clear strategy to replace it, various models competed, and nothing seemed to be working to combat stagflation.

Eric Miller

This wasn't just an economic problem, acc In this intellectual history of the latter twentieth century focusing more on the 70s into the 80s , Daniel Rodgers paints a bleak picture of disintegrating ideas and growing confusion. This wasn't just an economic problem, according to Rodgers. It represented a breakdown of intellectual authority, leading to a sense among the people that things were spiraling out of control and no one could stop it. An increase in radical civil rights movements grew as others noted that racial and gender identities were becoming less relevant than overall "class" issues.

An increasing nihilism seemed to be creeping over America. Rodgers effectively captures the sense of dread that many had about this, and the sense of moral decay that went along with it. Responses to this, and especially to the Roe v Wade decision, led to the politicization of the evangelical community. Part of this sense of loss included resistance to growing "multiculturalism" and changes in school curriculums.

Many felt that a sense of national identity was being lost. These frictions carried into the legal sphere as well as the Warren court came under heavy fire for its "activism. Its one of the few books that really looks at a longer view of cultural and intellectual shifts over a larger span of time than most works dealing with the late twentieth century. Rodgers, as usual, is a great writer and the book is thoroughly researched. This is well worth a read, and can provide interesting context for other works dealing with this same time period.

See a Problem?

Apr 19, Dan Gorman rated it liked it Shelves: us-history. Rodgers is a great historian, but I don't think this is his best book. Part of the problem here is that Rodgers is trying to cover too much material. Rodgers argues that, in the period —, there was a shift in American public discourse from talking about the needs of society to the needs of the individual.

This shift was a major part of the conservative revolution. Around that conservative shift, Rodgers portrays a lot of other movements — critical literary Rodgers is a great historian, but I don't think this is his best book. Around that conservative shift, Rodgers portrays a lot of other movements — critical literary theory, feminist debates, color-blindness vs. He doesn't come up with a good way or ways to classify those other movements.

Yes, he shows that there was more happening than just conservatism, but he doesn't tell his reader how to classify or group those movements. I also think, in trying to show how a variety of historical trends produced the shift toward individualism, Rodgers downplays the importance of the collapsing Fordist economy and the rise of the fringe political right in causing the shift. I think Jefferson Cowie in "Stayin' Alive," a study of labor and the economy, and Godfrey Hodgson in "The World Turned Right Side Up," a study of political conservatism, do a better job of conveying the shift to idealism.

Cowie and Hodgson focus on particular historical themes. Rodgers is trying to cover everything, to the point that the argument in support of his thesis is fuzzy. The age may have been fractured, but this book could have been clearer. Jan 13, Piker rated it really liked it Shelves: philosophy , non-fiction , american-experience , politics , history.

Age of Fracture is an intellectual history that examines the multitude of perspectives, ideologies, and debates that were forged in the 70s and 80s. Each chapter presents a lager theme and carries them into the 90s. At times the chapters resemble stand along essays. The Age of Fracture endured.

Aug 07, Suprada Urval marked it as to-read. Feb 18, Clark rated it liked it. It's a good jumping off point for anyone looking to dig into this era of intellectual history more.

Hip Fracture in Elderly

There were certainly a lot of trends and shifts in thought that I didn't know about it, so it was valuable for insight into where we are now. The bad: I felt that Rodgers was not particularly adept at explaining some of the more complicated concepts treated here. Moreover, the narrative was relatively fractured with very tenuous through-lines in each chapter and between each chapter. I thought he often did a poor job transitioning between topics within chapters and developing and connecting themes.

I have to strongly disagree with his assessment here. If anything, I feel like we are even more divided than ever: in areas as diverse as politics, income inequality, self-identifying minority groups, and vision for the future of America. One other thing jumped out at me in reading this text and simultaneously watching the events in Ferguson, Missouri unfold.

I think it's been hard to watch a lot of the events in the Middle East over the last few years and there is a sense in the US that there should be more unity in these regions, that the people should put aside their historical differences and find common bonds to bring stability to their lives, especially in the wake of democratic uprisings. However, I think we often forget how pervasive historical power imbalances are in our lives.

I look back on the events of the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement, which are now respectively and 50 years distant, yet they continue to play a huge role in the way we live our lives. We can point to these two events as distinct fissures that continue to inform disputes in race relations, states' rights, fiscal policy, every election in this country over the last 50 years, etc. When we think about the Middle East, we have to recognize that there have been vast power imbalances in many of these countries over many generations.

Although the sides look different from what we are used to seeing, the fallout is the same: either desperation to maintain power ie. Assad in Syria or rapid shifts in equilibrium that haven't quite settled yet ie. Iraq, Egypt.