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The World: A Beginner's Guide


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Table of Contents


Introduction: Humankind and Its World.

I. Why We Are Who We Are: A Socio-Cultural Geology of Today´s World.

The Rock of Civilizations.

The Sinic.

The Indic.

The West Asia.

The European.

The sub-Saharan African.

The Family-Sex-Gender Systems.

Sediments of Six Waves of Globalization.

Modernity and Its Pathways.

A Humanity of Multi-Layered Cultural Agglomerations.

II. World Dynamics: The Drivers of Humankind.

Modes of Livelihood: The Down and Up of Capitalism, and the Rest.

Population Ecology and the Ending of Modern Ecological Emancipation.

The Ethnic and Religious Dynamic of Recognition and Respect.

Politics of Collective Power: State Apotheosis.

Culture: Modernism Globalized, Accelerated, and Chastened.

Channels of Operation.

Global Processes.

1. Flows.






2.Global-national entanglements.

3. Global Action.

3. Global Action.

National Processes.


Population movements (demography).

Distributions: Global, National, Sub-National.

The Growth and Resilience of Nation- States.

III. The Current World Stage.

Scenography: the World Space.

The big players.

1. The Uneven Field of Nation-States.

2. Corporations.

3. Missions and Movements.

IV. Our Time on Earth: Courses of Life.

Birth and Survival.




Youth: Sex and Culture.

A Sexual Geography of the Young World.

Marriage and the end of youth.


Where to Live: The Urbanization of the World.

Making A Living: Classes of Work.

Class Formations of 21st Century Capitalism.

Making A Living: The Rich and the Poor.

Adult Enjoyment : Leisure and Consumption.

The Ruling & the Non-Ruling Generation.

Old age.

Retirement and Pension.

Living Arrangements.

An Ideal 21st Century Life-Course.

Death and After.

Conclusion : How We Got Here, and Where Are We Going?

How Did We Get Here?

Where Are We Going?



About the Author

Goran Therborn is Professor of Sociology at University ofCambridge.


"Goran Therborn's The World: A Beginner's Guide , asurvey of the present state, problems and outlook of the globe by aSwedish master sociologist, is one of the rare books that lives upto its title. It is lucid, intelligent about the future andadmirably researched." Guardian ,books of the year 2011 "Therborn's work represents what great comparative/historicalsociology is all about. Essential." Choice "[Therborn] compresses a vast and fascinating range ofhistorical and current world data into a detailed but intelligibleaccount of the changes in planetary human society." Morning Star "At a time when historians and economists tend to retire behindthe barricades of their increasingly specialized professions,answering the big comparative questions about the pathways into andout of modernity, the global processes of inequality and the forcesof possible change have been largely left to the sociologists. Inmy view, Goran Therborn, probably Sweden's most distinguishedsocial scientist, has made more essential contributions in thesefields than anyone else, by a combination of analytical lucidity,common sense and an extraordinary command of internationalcomparative data. For those who have read any of his earlier works,the appearance of a new book is inevitably a major intellectualevent." Eric Hobsbawm "Goran Therborn has written another of his incredibleempirical surveys, this time of the whole world today, in itshistorical context. He calls it a beginner's guide. Every readerwill emerge better equipped to understand the realities of ourworld, and hopefully to act intelligently in the light of theserealities." Immanuel Wallerstein, Yale University "We are in an unprecedented world, spanned by a joined-upeconomy and a global moral community. Professor Therborn - apractical, craftsmanlike sociologist, who works on a human scale -is an ideal guide to our unfamiliar present and future, who,without condescension, makes sense of complexity and turnsbafflement into clarity." Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, University of Notre Dame

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