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Postmodernism and Culture. Contextualising Globalisation, Culture and Lifestyle Lecture IV Daniel Turner and Jenny Flinn. Why postmodernism?. Postmodernity – another ‘buzzword’ of the 21 st century

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Postmodernism and Culture

Contextualising Globalisation, Culture and Lifestyle

Lecture IV

Daniel Turner and Jenny Flinn


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Why postmodernism?

  • Postmodernity – another ‘buzzword’ of the 21st century

  • Postmodern debate sets the framework for critical, theoretical and philosophical debates in many fields (inc globalisation) (Harvey, 2000)

  • Links to social processes and cultural forms

  • Yet summarising postmodernism is like: ‘trying to grab jelly in a clamp’ (Bryman, 1995)

  • ‘Do debates concerned with post-modernity amount to little more than a theoretical blind alley or do they have a significant contribution to make to our understanding of the social world?’ (Miles, 2001:83)

  • How does postmodernity impact upon the cultural industries?


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Modernism

  • Links to the Enlightenment, Protestant Work Ethic and Industrial Revolution (Turner, 1991)

  • Triumph of rational thought (Miles, 2001)

  • Quest for freedom, order and certainty.

  • Modernist culture: “leisure as occupying an observable space and time in society” (Rojek, 1995:38)

  • Leisure as a social function fixed to work.

  • Identity fixed and certain and tied to local and historical context.


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Postmodernism

  • Modernity: ‘is a paradoxical unity, a unity of disunity; it pours us all into a maelstrom of perpetual disintegration and renewal, of struggle and contradiction, of ambiguity and anguish’ (Berman, 1982:15)

  • Failure of modernity (Macionis and Plummer, 1997)

  • ‘Incredulity towards metanarratives’ (Lyotard, 1984)

  • Post-modernity or postmodernity?

  • The collapse of certainty and boundaries


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Postmodernism and Identity

  • ‘the onus for the construction of such identities increasingly falls on the shoulders of the individual’ (Miles, 2001:95)

  • A product of globalisation

  • Giddens (1991) the reflexive project of the self

  • ‘the snag is no longer how to discover, invent, construct, assemble (even buy) an identity, but how to prevent it from sticking’ (Bauman, 1996:24)


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Postmodernity and Culture

  • The dominance of imagery and the end of the ‘real’

  • Hyper-reality (Eco, 1986)

  • ‘our humanity is based on nothing more than our ability to consume spectacular simulations of reality’ (Miles, 2001, p87)

  • The collapse of boundaries and meaning – cultural stratification and significance is meaningless?

  • Pastiche, re-hash, retro, nostalgia, ironic consumption


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Postmodernism and Consumption

  • ‘Strollers’, ‘players’, ‘tourists’ and ‘vagabonds’ (Bauman, 1995)

  • Baudelaire’s (1960) ‘fláneur’

  • The consumption of signs and the ego-centricism of everyday life.

  • Consumption as a way of life?


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Critiquing postmodernism

  • A western plaything?

  • ‘On what basis does representation purport to reflect how consumers really interact with MTV?’ (Miles, 2001, p99)

  • A meaningless theoretical buzzword?

  • The ironic meta-narrative?


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Alternative conceptualisations

  • Postmodernism or Post-modernism?

  • High modernity (Giddens), Liquid Modernity (Bauman)

  • ‘The compulsive and obsessive, continuous, unstoppable, forever incomplete modernisation; the overwhelming and ineradicable, unquenchable thirst for creative destruction (or of destructive creativity, as the case might be, of ‘clearing the site’ in the name of a ‘new and improved’ design; of ‘dismantling’, ‘cutting out’, ‘phasing out’, ‘merging’ or ‘downsizing’, all for the sake of a greater capacity for doing more of the same in the future’) (Bauman, 2000, p28)

  • We need order, we want ‘fixed’ boundaries and rules.

  • Emergence of a risk society as a result of postmodern globalisation

  • Finding the ‘ontological anchor’ to everyday life? – identity

  • Finding the ‘safe’ form of risk and danger – consumption

  • Finding the ‘meaningful’ form of hyper-reality - culture