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Modernity and Social Theory SO3523 Postmodernism & Postmodernity.

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Presentation on theme: "Modernity and Social Theory SO3523 Postmodernism & Postmodernity."— Presentation transcript:

1 Modernity and Social Theory SO3523 Postmodernism & Postmodernity

2 Modernity and Social Theory SO3523 Postmodernism - A challenge to the assumptions of modern thought – the death of reason (Power,1990) Postmodernity – Social changes that herald the decline of the society constructed through modern ways of thinking Start with modernity -

3 Modernity and Social Theory SO3523 Background: Renaissance 14 th – 16 th century The Reformation 1517 Deism

4 Modernity and Social Theory SO3523 Immanuel Kant: Sapere aude: have courage to use your own understanding. Also: Voltaire, Rousseau, Diderot etc. – radical doubt, questioning and emancipatory knowledge

5 Modernity and Social Theory SO3523 The Enlightenment 17 th – 18 th century Individualism & Individual Freedom Reason/Rationality Order Progress

6 Modernity and Social Theory SO3523 Romanticism: Late 18 th - 19 th century (anti enlightenments cold rationality) Individualism Experience Emotions Nature The Past (Nations)

7 Modernity and Social Theory SO3523 Modern Society (Modernity): Individualism (unified and autonomous sense of self) Order & Control Science De-traditionalization & Secularization Complex Division of Labour

8 Modernity and Social Theory SO3523 Industrialism Bureaucracy Professionalism & Expertise Fordism/Production/Career (Job for Life) Economic Management Urbanisation Optimism/Confidence

9 Modernity and Social Theory SO3523 Two main strands to modern thought and its application – mechanization of social order + emancipation of the lifeworld (Cooper & Burrell, 1988) Systemic Modernism: Instrumental rationality applied to control complex organisations and tasks (see Weber, Fordism, Ritzer etc.)

10 Modernity and Social Theory SO3523 Critical Modernism: Critical reason applied to advancing understanding for the improvement of society Rational Science and Social Science Social Constructionism

11 Modernity and Social Theory SO3523 Jurgen Habermas: Enlightenment project incomplete Instrumental rationality (systemic) constraining rationalitys emancipatory (critical) potential– see colonisation of the lifeworld Need for revival of critical rationality through ideal speech community

12 Modernity and Social Theory SO3523 Anthony Giddens: Late Modernity (superficiality, scepticism and consumerism extensions of modernity – not new era) Reflexive Modernity – modernity as post- traditional Global Modernity, Disembedding & Risk

13 Modernity and Social Theory SO3523 Evaluating Modernism & Modernity: Privileging of rational over the irrational (emotional) Precise language, categorisation and meaning Liberation from superstition and tradition Facilitates order/predictability Focus on understanding/discovery Technological/scientific (including medical) advancement, production, economic expansion and improved living standards. BUT

14 Modernity and Social Theory SO3523 Devalues/constrains emotional experience Constrains individual autonomy and spontaneity through disciplinary society – rational control and surveillance Marginalizes minority/non-Western forms of knowledge Moral inadequacy- role of rationality in colonialism, imperialism, social inequality, world wars and genocide (holocaust) Produces environmental degradation/increased risk (scientific failure and technological dystopia)

15 Modernity and Social Theory SO3523 Lecture 2 Postmodernism: This term means nothing: use it on all possible occasions (anon). Criticises assumptions of modern thought and modern rationality – heralds the decline of the modern project and modern society and the emergence of a new form of society - postmodernity.

16 Modernity and Social Theory SO3523 Postmodernists Reject: a) Enlightenment project of achieving progress through reason b) The belief in single all encompassing truths – meta-narratives c) The privileged status of reason/mind over emotion, sentiment, intuition, mysticism and body. (Romanticism?)

17 Modernity and Social Theory SO3523 d) Pre-given boundaries between things, ideas and experiences e) Categorization of experience f) Objective knowledge f) The intellectual marginalization of particular sets of ideas, ways of life etc.

18 Modernity and Social Theory SO3523 Michel Foucault (Post-Structuralist) Power/Knowledge (influence of Nietzsche) Language & Discourse (influence of Saussure) Impossibility of Objective Knowledge/Truth History as directionless – not progressive Professionalism & Expertise Surveillance, Control & Bio-Power

19 Modernity and Social Theory SO3523 Jacques Derrida (Post-Structuralist) Instability of Meaning – privileging of difference, inversion and ambiguity over authoritative (modern) classification/categorization Deconstruction – all texts (ideas, actions) open to as many interpretations as there are interpreters – no definitive reading

20 Modernity and Social Theory SO3523 Jean-François Lyotard End of Grand Narratives (decline in belief in progress) Legitimacy – (scientific, and others forms, achieved through presentation rather than substance) De-realization

21 Modernity and Social Theory SO3523 Jean Baudrillard Simulation – consumerism and the mass media engage in a proliferation of signs that are increasingly detached from any underlying reality Hyperreality

22 Modernity and Social Theory SO3523 Zigmunt Baumann The Holocaust - consequences of rational social engineering, instrumental calculation and bureaucratic organization Liquid Modernity - Late (post) modernity – solid features of modern self and society dissolve amid flux an flow of complex consumer society – selfhood is chosen from the supermarket of identities Legislators and Interpreters

23 Modernity and Social Theory SO3523 Postmodern Society (Postmodernity) Individualism (multiple/performative self) Superficiality/Pastiche/Play Disorder & Flux Anti-Science No privileged standpoint – all traditions, beliefs equally valid

24 Modernity and Social Theory SO3523 Postmodern Society (Postmodernity) Fragmentation De-industrialisation Disorganisation Relativism Post-Fordism/Consumerism/Flexibility Pessimism/anxiety, stress and doubt

25 Modernity and Social Theory SO3523 Evaluating Postmodern & Postmodernity: Provides critical evaluation of modernity and modern thought Draws attention to the dehumanising and irrational features of modern rational organisation (not exclusive in this – see Marx, Weber, Simmel, Ritzer etc.) Challenges the ethno-centric assumptions of Western rationalism Draws attention to the increasingly artificial, superficial and mythical nature of contemporary culture and lived environment. BUT

26 Modernity and Social Theory SO3523 Relativism/Radical Constructionism – If there is no privileged standpoint, and no possibility of objective knowledge, then why postmodern theory? Also – if all perspectives/versions of reality are equally valid then medical doctor = witch doctor? Tendency towards solipsism – view that nothing is verifiable beyond ones own experience – potential for triviality, fatalism and even nihilism. No recipe/hope for social advancement/improvement criteria for judgement of ideas, values, morality Anomie and meaninglessness Just Babel? – Pretentious Irrational Nonsense (Chomsky, Sokal etc.)

27 Modernity and Social Theory SO3523 End of Meta-narratives? What about - Globalization Neo-liberalism Liberal Democracy Religion (Secularization or Desecularization?)


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