Alternative View of Modernity: The Subaltern Speaks

Aldon Morris*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


This article derives from my 2021 ASA presidential address. I examine how sociologists including Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim, Max Weber, and white American sociologists have omitted key determinants of modernity in their accounts of this pivotal development in world history. Those determinants are white supremacy, western empires, racial hierarchies, colonization, slavery, Jim Crow, patriarchy, and resistance movements. This article demonstrates that any accounts omitting these determinants will only produce an anemic and misleading analysis of modernity. The central argument maintains that the sociologist W. E. B. Du Bois developed a superior analysis of modernity by analytically centering these determinants. I conclude by making a case for the development of an emancipatory sociology in the tradition of Du Boisian critical sociological thought.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalAmerican Sociological Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2022


  • Du Bois
  • Jim Crow
  • colonization
  • emancipatory sociology
  • modernity
  • patriarchy
  • racial hierarchies
  • resistance movements
  • slavery
  • western empires
  • white supremacy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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