Modern societies are typically describe as being largely non-religious, control by power and money instead of belief in gods. This definition defines them as modern in comparison to traditional societies. As well as highlighting the various problems of modernity. Such as the rise of capitalism, overproduction, growth as well as climate changes.
Why do we feel so confident that secularisation and the power of the economy. And politics are a part of the DNA of our modern societies? Our answer is what defines and restricts our ability to solve problems.
A recent study in the journal Futures shows that many models and tools for strategic management of the future. Show prominently influenced by the sciences. Economy and politics and are systematically ignoring the law, religion or art.
Since this bias is unintentional and unjustified, we run the risk of always looking. For the right solution to the wrong problems.
Monitoring The Cultural Power Memory
In a study from May 2017 that was publish in Technological Forecasting and Social Change We examined. The concept of secularized as well as politic and economic-focused contemporary societies.
We conducted big data-based analysis of the digital database built in Google Books. Google Books project, which has been scan and digitally. Digital for over 25 million copies of 130 million books published around the world.
To efficiently screen this vast amount in text we employed to screen this massive text. We used the Google Books Ngram Viewer, an online graphing tool. Which charts annual word counts, as documented inside Google Books. Google Books project. This Ngram Viewer comes with an easy-to-use interface, where users can input keywords, select the time period for the sample. Select the desired area of language and alter the form of the graphic output.
One of our issues was to determine the best keywords. To do this, we utilized an open source tool developed by Jan Berkel.
This resulted in a compilation of most commonly used words and phrases from books written between 1800 to 2000. The period encompasses a significant amount of the time period. That is that is often refer to as the modern era and is consider reliable information by Google.
List of English Power
Repeated the process until we came up with a list of English, Spanish, Russian, French, German, and Italian. Then we look through the frequency lists for words that can be consider to be distinct and clear keywords. Money or God are good examples of these keywords, however we did not include. The terms tax and constitution because they are related to both economics and politics or law.
We also have sorted the five most popular religious and political, economic and other relevant keywords. In order to perform comparative analysis of time-series plots for word frequency. That are display through Google Ngram Viewer. Google Ngram Viewer.
The following figure shows the frequency of words for economic, political, religious, media. And scientific words from the English-language Google Books corpus between 1800 to 2000.
Since a considerable proportion of humanity’s collective memory between 1800 and 2000. And since the outcomes of our research resemble classical electroencephalography (EEG). Recordings (see figure), we also linked our research into the global brain discourse.
The premise is that the global internet of information and communication technology functions as the brain of the planet earth. In this sense, our electroencephalographic big data internet research is the first example of a global brain wave measurement. Which was herald by Peter Russell in his 1982 book The Global Brain.
Secularisation, A Lot Of Politics, And No Capitalist System
When we look at the brain wave records of all people (figure below) and we see that our method does well in recording the anticipated decline of religious belief (orange line) and is, in fact is not as important when compared to Spanish as well as Italian.
The chart for the English language shows the significant interactions between two world wars as well as the importance of the political system (blue line) We also find similar patterns in other areas too.
In the Russian section, the significance of politics is significantly elevated in the (postpost) October Revolution period and especially during the second world war.
In the French instance, the period in the period between the First World War have seen a significant increase to the role of the political however, the interactions during the second world conflict is more moderate. The German results follow the same pattern to that of the French however, they show the significant rise in politics after the second world war period, peaking around 1970.
Increasing Power Importance
The increasing importance of mass media is in line with the time line of the age of information (green line). What we do not observe however is the dominant role of the economy (purple lines) in our modern society. There was a brief period from 1910 to 1950 when economics was second only to a far more robust political.
The image of a war-time economy is closest to the capitalist scenario seen within the English segment, where the economy is beaten with the help of scientific research (red line) immediately following the second world conflict and through mass media in the 1990s, achieving fourth at the conclusion of the sample.
There’s no evidence of the glorious capitalism of the 19th century as the stories from those of the Industrial Revolution would lead us to believe.
The charts for other languages don’t confirm the notion of modern societies being capitalist or controlled by the economy. There is only one exception: that of the French segment, in which the economy is second only to a stronger political structure after the conclusion at the end of WWII.
Economy is rank 3rd in the Russian segment only from late 1950s until the 1990s, and for the German segment prior to the 1970s. It is also lower than both the Spanish and Italian segments.
The New God Of Modern Society
Our research on big data indicates that our modern society is highly politicize. The majority of societies are clearly secular, with some reservations for communities where Spanish as well as Italian are spoken. We also find that science plays an important function, placing 2nd in the Englishas well as Russian and German-speaking regions in late in 20th century.
None of the societies studied is rule by the economics and the small reservation that was mention earlier only applicable to French. This is a reflection of the notion that capitalism is an economic political philosophy but not the importance of the economy.
The main conclusion we have derived from our research is that it is the fact that political power, not economy, has replaced religious belief as the primary principal between 1800 to 2000.
Our data strongly suggest that, in spite of different ideologies or habits of mind economics is of only a moderate significance to our modern-day societies. This means that, in the near future we might want to reconsider our choices before we label our societies as being based on money or economy-biased capitalist.
Primarily On Books Power
The main flaw of our study is that it was primarily on books. However, this is not a problem since the concepts of capitalism as well as the importance of the economy were formulate specifically in the texts we examine.
The idea that the notions of contemporary societies as being dominate by economy or capital are likely based on misconceptions instead of modern scientific worldviews could be contradictory or even shocking to both capitalists and anti-capitalists.
However, once we begin to accept it as a fact it expands our perspective of options to the capitalism system, which includes alternatives to post-growth, degrowth or alternative forms of growth.
Acknowledgement: The research we conducted was first presented at the 2016. City University of Hong Kong Workshop on Computational Approaches to Big Data in the Social Sciences and Humanities. I am thankful for Jonathan Zhu and the entire team from the Web Mining Lab at the City U Department of Media and Communication for inviting me to Hong Kong as well as for the valuable feedback.