Modernity (1700s) and post-modernity (1980s)
Modernity (1700s) and post-modernity (1980s)
What are modernity and modernism?
Industrialisation and the manufacture of standardized goods for a mass market
Work and social class are the main forms of social division and social identity, and both culture and politics are social class related
Life is fairly orderly and predictable, and people have a fairly stable and clear idea of their position in society and where they are heading
Societies are based on independent nation-states, national economies and national identities
One-way mass media more or less reflect social reality
An optimistic view that the application of rational thought, science and technology could provide a means of controlling and improving the natural world
A view that sociological theory and research could provide insight into and explanations of the social world, and could be sued to improve it.
Social change = insecurity and unpredictability
No longer relating to political parties of the past, but there are new social and political movements concerned with culture, identity, lifestyle, and quality of life
Social structures disintergrating
Globalisation and consumer culture meant traditional sources of identity (class, ethnicity, and gender) were becoming irrelevant
Rise of new media, rapid technological change, and growth of service and knowledge-based inudstries
There was such a rapid change that modernist social theories were no longer able to provide adequate explanations
Decline in faith in science, and science came to be seen as the cause of problems rather than a solution.
What are postmodernity and postmodernism
Chaos, uncertainty and the collapse of social structures
(1992) 'liquid modernity' - society is in such a state of constant change that it is unpredictable, and is marked by chaos and uncertainty
It is nonsense to talk of an institution called the family and any notion of the 'typical family' or 'the family as an institution' is absurd.
Metanarratives and the 'myth of truth'
(1984) - Society is changing so rapidly that it can no longer be understood through the application of general theory
People no longer have faith in science
The nation-state and national differences are becoming less significant and the world is becoming increasingly interconnected
(1990) 'disembedding' - Peoples lives are influenced by the global framework and social relations are lifted out of local contexts and are no longer confined by time and space
National cultures are diluted and increasingly becoming global cultures
People now form their own identities around images and consumer lifestyles
Choice, identity and consumption
There are few social contraints on people, and social structures have fragmented, weakened or ceased to exist.
Lyotard - postmodern societies are characterised by growing individualism, where this is now only a mass of individuals, with few social bonds connecting them.
A media-saturated society
(2001) - society is 'media saturated, dominated by imagery.
- images or reproductions and copies which appear to reflect things in the real world but have no basis in reality
- a view of the world which is created and defined by the media, with the image of an event more real than the event is meant to be depicting.
- 'Much of our world has become a sort of make-
believe universe in which we are responding to media images rather than real persons or places.'
Pick n mix identities
(2001) - life involves the search for satisfaction of media-created desires, and pressures to consume.
Identities are created by information, images and signs.
1996) - new identities are created by globalisation
People can pick n mix to create whatever identities they wish
You are what you buy
(1996) - life resembles a shopping mall, where people can stroll around consuming whatever they like - trying out, constructing and changing whatever identities they choose.
Critical views of postmodernism
: late modernity and reflexivity
He accepts that we live in a 'runaway world' and a 'risk society', but these changes are just a continuation of modern society in an intensified form
Not 'post-modernity', but 'late/high modernity'
Late modernity is characterised by 'social reflexivity', this means the knowledge we gain from society can affect the way we act in it.
In an ever changing world, where risks are high, people are constantly having to reflect on and reassess what they do
: 'risk society' and reflexive modernity
(1992) - suggests there is a new phase of modernity - 'the second modernity' - which he calls 'reflexive modernity'
High risk society, new disasters that have higher chances of spinning out of contorl
Recognises that sciece still carries a risk, it also has the power to make things better
Beck shares with the Giddens the idea of reflexivity, and suggests we live in a reflexive modernity, as people, institutions and governments need to think and reflect more about risks today, work out how to solve problems, and therefore change society
Harvey & Marxism
(1990) - suggests that many of the changes claimed by PMs to be evidence of postmodernity can be explained by modernist theories.
Changes like globalisation, rapid cultural change, the growth of consumerism and the individualisation if identity reflect capitalism opening up new markets and new sources of profits in a global economy.
The work of Giddens, Beck and Harvey suggests that, though there has been rapid social change, the distinction between modernity and postmodernity is exaggerated and the changes can be explained by adapting sociological theories like Marxism and developing more sophisticated new ones.
It has highlighted some important cultural changes, particularly in the areas of the media, culture and identity
It emphasises the the construction of identity has become a more fluid and complex process.
It provides insight into most contemporary social changes.
It challenges social metanarratives
It is all criticism
It over-emphasises the influence of the media
It exaggerates the scale of social change
It is too voluntarianstic
Postmodernism in itself is a metanarrative