Postmodernism summary

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  • Created by: Tiffany
  • Created on: 03-12-11 20:35



The breakdown of modernity;

1.       Are now living in a postmodern era

2.       Do we need postmodernism to explain our behaviour?


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theories of late modernity

Theories of late modernity

                How are these theories different to postmodernism?

Ø  Continuation of modernity

Ø  Key features of modernity that were always present have been intensified they still believe that we can discover objective knowledge

Ø  Enlightenment project is still useful.

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disembodying and reflexivity

What does Giddens mean by “disembodying” and “reflexivity” in his explanation of the rapid social change we see in late and high modernity?

Ø  Disembodying the change of social relations from local contents of interaction.

o   No longer face-to-face contact in order to interact.

o   Breaks down the geographical barriers and makes interaction personal.

Ø  Reflexivity we are continually re-evaluating our ideas and theories.

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Giddens and Beck

Giddens and Beck criticise the postmodern view

Ø  Giddens we face a number of high consequence risks

o   I.e. nuclear war, pollution etc.

o   We cannot intervene to improve things (managing the risks)

Ø  Beck; risk society highlights the new dangers within society


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risk politics and progress

Risk, Politics and Progress

                Rational Knowledge-we can overcome them

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marxist theories of postmodernity

Marxist Theories of Postmodernity

Ø  Marx claimed that his theory showed how the working class revolution could overthrow capitalism and bring an end to capitalism.

Ø  Postmodernity = fundamental break

Ø  Marxists = product of capitalism


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Flexible Accumulation

Flexible Accumulation

Ø  The crisis gave rise to a new regime of accumulation –a new way of achieving profitability

Ø  Harvey calls this flexible accumulation/post-Fordism

Ø  It replaced the more rigid pre-1970s Fordism mass production system

Ø  It involves the use of ICT, an expanded service and the finance sector, job insecurity and the requirement for workers to be “flexible” to fit their employers’ needs.

Ø  This brought move brought along changes of which were cultural characteristics of postmodernity

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Flexible Accumulation continued

o   Production of customised products for niche markets promotes cultural diversity

o   Easy switching  of production from one product to another encourages constant shifts in fashion

o   Consumption turned into leisure, culture and identity into products/commodities

o   Cultural products such as fashion, sports and music have become an important source of profit.

Ø  Jameson argues that postmodernity represents a more developed form of capitalism because it commodifies virtually all aspects of life, including our identities.

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politics and progress

 Politics & Progress

Ø  Harvey & Jameson argue that flexible accumulation has also brought political changes characteristics of postmodernity.

Ø  It has weakened the W/C and socialist movements.

Ø  In their place a variety of oppositional movements have emerged such as womens liberation and anti-racism etc.

Ø  Harvey and Jameson are optimistic that these oppositional movements can form a rainbow alliance = to bring about change.

Ø  Marxist theorists agree with postmodernists that we have moved from modernity to postmodernity.

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Politics and progress continued

Ø  Best & Kellner say that they differ in 2 ways

o   Retain a faith in Marxist theory as a means of explaining these changes.

o   They argue that the goal of the Enlightenment Project > to change society for the better – can still be achieved.


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Ø  Marx’s original view of the Enlightenment project was that it would be achieved by the W/C leading a revolution to overthrow capitalism and create a better society.

Ø  By contrast, by accepting that political opposition to capitalism has fragmented into many different social movements such as feminism and environmentalism.

Ø  Marxist theories of postmodernity appear to abandon this possibility

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