Even though we, as moderns or post-moderns, think we can be free, original and authentic, our actions, thoughts, and emotions are cast in patterns which we share with other individuals, which we did not invent, and which we pass on to the next generation. After we die, people will continue to act, think, and feel within the context of institutions like marriage, family, church, school, university, voluntary associations, et cetera. All these institutions together are what we mean by culture. This book argues that human beings cannot exist, cannot even develop their individuality, freedom, and creativity, without institutions. Under the impact of globalization, ICT, and flexibilization, however, the character of institutions has changed. Pre-modern 'thick' institutions have developed into modern, or perhaps post-modern, 'thin' institutions, which in many ways resemble networks. This book is not a defense of traditional conservatism, nor does it embrace a facile brand of post-modernism. It is instead a painstaking search for a responsible middle road.
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