The controversy prompted by the thought and writings of Ulrich Beck over the multifaceted dynamics of the fundamental transformation that modernity is undergoing under conditions of globalization raises new kinds of challenges for politics and everyday life worldwide, but especially for a social science that deals with these issues. At issue is what conclusions should be drawn from the recognition that, neither in the West nor at the level of global pluralism, are modern societies the normatively integrated formations developing in linear ways as which they were characterized and described, for example, by the long-dominant structural functionalism (see Schwinn 2006). The plural, contingent present of global modernities points, on the contrary, to worldwide processes of reflexive modernization and to the interrelation between successfully enforced goals of modernity and the dynamic of unintended side effects. These very side
effects of the process of modernization represent the driving force of an epochal transformation that is changing the coordinates of this transformation itself toward a modernization of modernity (Beck and Bonß 2001; Beck and Lau 2004) and is directing it into new, hitherto unexplored channels. The authors of this book have made it their task to survey this other modernity that is overlooked and concealed by linear conceptions of modernization and to address the production of uncertain social futures in the present.