The End of Society? Defining and Tracing the Development of Fragmentation through the Modern and into the Post-Modern Era
Without great precision, sociologists have used the term `fragmentation' to describe a state of disconnect found in both advanced industrial and developing nations. They suggest that it is influenced by such factors as globalization and capitalism. This dissertation attempts to define fragmentation as a process and suggest how it can be used as a theoretical perspective for understanding contemporary social divisions. Prior research is used to define social fragmentation as a process in modern society by which different groups form parallel structures within society, which have little or no consistent interaction between them over the full spectrum of the social experience; these groups are closely related to exposure to modern ideas. Fragmentation is found on four axes: spatial, cultural normative, economic, and political. From these axes, six specific types of fragmentation were selected as examples of how a method can be created to investigate this social phenomenon. A cross-sectional method was used with the nation-state as the unit of analysis, where theoretically based predictor variables were regressed against theoretically based indicator values in order to capture a snapshot of how fragmentation appears in countries at differing levels of development. Two types of special fragmentation were analyzed. Analysis of fragmentation of families suggests that immigration to a country and female labor force participation increased fragmentation. Analysis of fragmentation of cities that suggests the best predictors of fragmentation have to do with poverty. Two types of cultural normative fragmentation were selected. Analysis of fragmentation of normative systems suggests that various cultural factors, income distribution, education, and access to the internet predict greater fragmentation. Analysis of fragmentation of morality suggests it is most closely related to modern structures for dissemination of knowledge. Two types of economic fragmentation were selected. Analysis of fragmentation of markets suggests that the structure of economies strongly influences fragmentation. Analysis of fragmentation of production processes provided only limited support for the hypothesis that the most modern economies featured the most fragmentation. Overall analysis suggests that social fragmentation can be empirically defined and measured. Future research should consider access to world systems as a factor in the fragmentation process.
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