Modernity and Postmodernity - Theory (and Methods) Unit 4

Taken from class notes and a revision booklet created by my teacher.

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  • Modernity and Postmodernity
    • Modernity
      • Enlightenment ideas of the 18th century influencing social thinkers of the 19th century
      • Hold strong beliefs in progress of society: application of science, rationality and technology inevitably produce social progress
      • They could apply apply scientific methodology to the study of society in order to understand it and bring about desired changes.
      • Was an optimistic view of society
    • Postmodernism
      • Do not accept the ideas of enlightenment
        • They believe that science and technology can be blamed for destroying the enviroment rather than solving the problems
          • Time and space have been compressed through communication e.g. airplanes, skype etc.
      • It is a pessimistic approach that sees the future of society as dystopic
      • The metanarrative or 'big stories' of the past such as Marxism and Functionalism are insufficient in making sense of our changing world
        • Knowledge is not absolute but dependant and relative
      • Development of mass media and global communications
        • Encouragded people to define ourselves through cultural and media images
          • Cultures have been hybridised
    • Theories of Late Modernity (TLM)
      • Subsctibe also to the 'enlightenment' belief
      • The change in our modern society has now gone into overdrive
        • These rapid changes are not the dawn of postmodernity a continuation of modern society
      • Giddens reflexivity and high modernity
        • Tradition and customs no longer guide how we act
          • Cultures become increasingly unstable within these conditions
        • Disembedding is the systematic removal of social relations from local context of interraction
          • This has led to reflexive evaluation of our own actions: modifying our acts in the light of info about about risks
      • Risks
        • Environmental consequences  Beck calls 'manufactured risks'  e.g. China's smog problem
        • Contrary to postmodernism  Giddens and Beck believe we can make rational plans to reduce these risks and achieve progress


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