The Generative Mechanism Re-configuring Late Modernity

  • Margaret S. ArcherEmail author
Part of the Social Morphogenesis book series (SOCMOR)


In this chapter a specific generative mechanism is advanced to account for the profound changes that have taken place since 1980. It derives from the enlarged pool of ‘contingent complementarities’ within the Cultural System and the exploitation of these complementary items to produce novel morphogenetic effects. The key institutions involved are, on the one hand, multinational and finance capitalism, and on the other, university based digital science. Symbiosis between them grows because market enterprises need to be increasingly competitive and digital science depends upon diffusion. Their synergy leads new variety to stimulate further variety. However, their situational logics are in mutual opposition: the zero-sum logic of market competition versus the diffusionists’ logic of opportunity fostering the ‘commons’, of which all are beneficiaries. This is the relational contestation of late modernity. The two logics promote divergent morphogenetic changes that steer the developing global social order in different directions. Market competition has resulted in the current crisis from which Third Sector initiatives cannot immediately extricated it – meaning we cannot yet speak of the advent of Morphogenic society.


Corporate Social Responsibility Generative Mechanism Social Order Social Enterprise Late Modernity 
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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de LausanneLausanneSwitzerland

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