Globalisation, Modernity and Postmodernity


Modernity & Globalisation

The enlightment project - the idea that through reason & science, we can discover true knowledge and progress to a better society.

Modern society - emerged from late 18th century. Characteristics include: nation-state, capitalism, mass production, scientific thinking, technology, individualism and decline of tradition.

Globalisation - growing interconnectedness of societies occuring because:

Technological changes (internet + air travel to create time-space compression)

Economic changes (global networks dominate economic activity, growth in TNCs drive globalisation forward)

Political changes (fall of communism + growth of TNC bodies created global capitalism opportunities)

Culture & identity changes (westernised global culture makes it harder for some cultures to isolate themselves)

Rapid changes in globalisation led to new questions e.g.: what kind of society do we now live in, modern or post-modern? what kind of theory can explain today's society? post-modernism or some form modernism?

3 theories offer to answer these questions: postmodernism, theories of late modernity, marxist theories of postmodernity.

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We now live in new era, postmodernity. Postmodern society is fundamental break with modernity + requires new kind of theory to explain it.

Knowledge -

  • argue there's no objective criteria to prove whether a theory is true, any theory claiming to have truth about how to create better society e.g. Marxism is meta-narrative (someone's version of reality).
  • We should celebrate diversity of views rather than seek to impose one version of truth.

Enlightenment project (theory + science can discover true knowledge + progress to better society):

  • In a PM society media create hyper-reality - media signs appear more real than reality itself, leaving us unable to distinguish image from reality.
  • If we can't even grasp reality, lost power to change it to improve society - EP unachievable.

Culture and Identity -

  • Media produces endless stream of images, making culture unstable + fragmented. No longer logical set of shared values, people cease to believe any one version of the truth.
  • Identity becomes destablised; we can change it simply by changing our consumption patterns, picking and mixing media-produced images to define ourselves.
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Criticisms of Postmodernism

Ignores ruling class' use of the media as a tool of ideological domination.

Wrong to claim people cannot distinguish between reality & media image.

By assuming all views equally true, becomes just as valid to deny Nazi's killed millions as to affirm it.

Critics argue we CAN use knowledge to solve human problems.

Claims no theory is any truer than any other - so why should we believe its claims are true?

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Theories of late modernity

Argue todays rapid changes not dawn of new, PM era but continuation of modern society.

We're now in late or high modernity. Key features of modernity have now become intensified; e.g. change always been typical of modern society but now gone into overdrive. Subscribe to enlightenment project.

High modernity has 2 key features (Gidden) that encourage globalisation + rapid change:

Disembedding - lifting out of social relations from local contexts of interaction. Factors like credit break down geographical barriers + make interaction more impersonal.

Reflexivity - tradition & custom no longer guide on how we should act. We're therefore forced to become reflexive - to reflect on and modify our actions in light of information about risks.

We're continually reevaluating our ideas. Under these conditions, culture becomes increasingly unstable.

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Theories of late modernity

Late modernity and risk

Now face new high consequence risks - e.g. environmental harm. Beck = manufactured risks. Result from technology not nature.

However, unlike postmodernists, Giddens and Beck believe we can make rational plans based on objective knowledge to reduce these risks and achieve progress.

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Marxist Theories of Postmodernity

Jameson & Harvey believe in Enlightment project fo  achieving objective knowledge to improve society.

Agree with PMs that we've moved from modernity to post modernity. Not new type of society, Mxts see this as newest stage of capitalism.

PM arose out of capitalist crisis of the 1970s, gave rise to a new way of achieving profitability - Harvey calls FLEXIBLE ACCUMULATION (FA).

Involves use of ICT, expanded service and finance sector, job insecurity and working flexibly to fit employer needs. Involves production of customised products for niche markets + brings many of the features of postmodernity:

Customised products promote cultural diversity, leisure culture and identity become commodities produced for profit, global financial markets and IT produce compression of time & space, brings political changes, especially weakening of WC movement. In its place, variety of oppositional movements emerge, e.g. feminism, environmentalism.

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