Post-modern Society

					Do We Live in a Postmodern Society?

     Lecture by Dr Christopher Kollmeyer
             Outline for Lecture
Key Question: Do we live in a postmodern society?

Postmodernism Defined: Things characterised by a rupture with,
    and movement beyond, modernism.

Possible Realms where Postmodernism Manifests
   1.    Time, Space, and Social Relations
   2.    Arts, Pop Culture, and Aesthetics
   3.    Epistemology
   4.    Societal Structures
        • Economy
        • Politics
        • Geo-political affairs
          First, What is Modernity?
• It’s a historical period that began in the 1700s in Western
• It resulted in massive social change in which long-
  standing, traditional societies were rapidly and thoroughly
   –   Economy: agrarian  industrial
   –   Human settlements: small & rural large & urban
   –   Polity: empires  nation-states
   –   Epistemology: traditional, dogmatic rational, scientific
• It spread unevenly across the world’s societies.
   – Imperial expansion (e.g. India, the Americas)
   – Imitation (e.g. Japan, Turkey)
Human Population Growth:
Example of Massive Social Change
  Occurring During Modernity
Summary of Selected Social Changes
   Occurring During Modernity
Sphere of Society Pre-modernity Modernity
Economy            •Feudalism            •Capitalism
                   •Agrarian             •Industrial
Polity             •Empire               •Nation-State
                   •Monarchy             •Democracy
Human settlements •Rural                 •Urban
                   •Small-scale          •Large-scale

Population         •High birth rate      •Falling birth rate
                   •High mortality       •Low mortality

Knowledge          •Dogmatic,            •Scientific, rational,
                   traditional, stable   changing
          Time-Space Compression:
        Technology Shrinks Our World

                                              Sailing ships (1500s – 1840s)

                                     Trains and stream ships (1840s – 1920s)

                                 Propeller airplanes (1920s-1940s)

                             Jet airplanes (1940s –present)

Source: David Harvey. 1990. The Condition of Postmodernity. Pp. 241
   Information Age and time-space
Intel Corp invents micro-chip in 1972

Information tech becomes generalized
throughout society

Information now travels at light speed
   so-called ‘Death of Geography’
Time-Space Compression Occurs Unevenly

    Source: Peter Dicken. 1998. Global Shift. Pp. 153.
Social Consequences of the Separation
         of Time and Space
‘Dis-embedding’ of social relations: Removing
  social activity from its localized context. Co-
  presence not required.

Globalized Social Interdependence: Distant events
 increasingly have local consequences

Ontological Insecurity: Declining stability and
 continuity in one’s personal identity and one’s
 surrounding social environment.
Source: Anthony Giddens. 1990. The Consequences of Modernity.
PoMo in Fine Arts and Pop Culture:
 Dominance of Signs and Symbols


                        Symbol representing a

   An actual man
 De-linking of Signifier and Signified
‘Empty' or 'floating' signifiers: Signifiers with
  vague, highly variable, or little connections to
  their signified.
                          Advert for Perfume: Signifier
Perfume: Signified

            Postmodern Signs
• Simulacrum: Simulacra are copies without
  originals. Or representations that bear little
  relation to any reality.
            Disneyland as Simulacrum par excellence
        PoMo in the Fine Arts:
Andy Warhol and the Blurring of High and Low
 Culture, of Near and Far, of Past and Present
      PoMo in the Fine Arts:
The Many Identities of Cindy Sherman
Modern vs. Post-modern TV Adverts



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