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However more ambitious movements also developed from this insight into human culture, initially Romanticism and Historicism, and eventually both the Communism of Karl Marx, and the modern forms of nationalism inspired by the French Revolution, including, in one extreme, the German Nazi movement (Orwin and Tarcov 1997, chapt. On the other hand, the notion of modernity has been contested also due to its Euro-centric underpinnings.

Modernity as a topic in the humanities and social sciences is both a historical period (the modern era), as well as the ensemble of particular socio-cultural norms, attitudes and practices that arose in post-medieval Europe and have developed since, in various ways and at various times, around the world.

While it includes a wide range of interrelated historical processes and cultural phenomena (from fashion to modern warfare), it can also refer to the subjective or existential experience of the conditions they produce, and their ongoing impact on human culture, institutions, and politics (Berman 2010, 15–36).

Other theorists, however, regard the period from the late 20th century to the present as merely another phase of modernity; Zygmunt Bauman (1989) labels it "high" modernity (see High modernism).

Politically, modernity's earliest phase starts with Niccolò Machiavelli's works which openly rejected the medieval and Aristotelian style of analyzing politics by comparison with ideas about how things should be, in favour of realistic analysis of how things really are.

Some writers have suggested there is more than one possible modernity, given the unsettled nature of the term and of history itself.

Charles Baudelaire is credited with coining the term "modernity" (modernité) in his 1864 essay "The Painter of Modern Life", to designate the fleeting, ephemeral experience of life in an urban metropolis, and the responsibility art has to capture that experience.

"—a literary and artistic quarrel within the Académie française in the early 1690s.

In these usages, "modernity" denoted the renunciation of the recent past, favouring a new beginning, and a re-interpretation of historical origin.

As a historical category, modernity refers to a period marked by a questioning or rejection of tradition; the prioritization of individualism, freedom and formal equality; faith in inevitable social, scientific and technological progress and human perfectibility; rationalization and professionalization; a movement from feudalism (or agrarianism) toward capitalism and the market economy; industrialization, urbanization and secularization; the development of the nation-state and its constituent institutions (e.g.

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