Second Modernity: Making Good on Architecture’s Social Contract

The last decade has seen a surge of work reasserting what we have always known to be true: architecture needs to do more than just look good, it needs to do good. …

Sociologists Ulrich Beck, Anthony Giddens, and Scott Lash identify these responses to the new “risk society” as unabashedly Modern, but in a new way and with a new urgency. They suggest that we critically reevaluate, refresh, renew, even “modernize” Modernism in a process of “reflexive” or “second” modernization. Moving forward in the spirit of the first Moderns but armed with new tools, we just might experience something more complex, more reflective (or reflexive), less utopian, or at least more pragmatic than what we associate with the label “Modern.” Modern or not, design is moving back toward doing the most with the least for the many.

Robert Cowherd, “Second Modernity: Making Good On Architecture’s Social Contract,” Architecture Boston 13, no. 4 (Winter 2010), 21, <>.


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