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The thesis of Alain Touraine – the French sociologist of international renown who held the 19th ‘Fulvio Guerrini lecture’ in Turin for the Centro Einaudi, of which this is the text – is that globalization has come to an end. After September 11 and the war in Iraq, we are faced with historical change and a political and ideological mutation of the world. We have already entered an international situation that is no longer dominated by economics but by politics, in which multilateralism has been squashed by American unilateralism. The ‘economic’ vision of the world we thought we were living in has been replaced by a military and ideological vision and competition over the use of new technologies has lost importance compared to what Huntington has called the clash of civilisations. Nonetheless, what is really happening is that different societies are pursuing different directions and models of modernization. If we accept this idea and the consequent comparative approach, we get rid of ruthless conflicts between ‘civilisations’, each of which identifies modernity with its own historical and cultural characteristics.