You are on page 1of 14

What is


I define postmodern as incredulity
towards metanarratives.

J-F Lyotard
The Postmodern Condition: A Report on
Manchester University Press, Manchester,

the postmodern refers above all to
the exhaustionof modernity.

David Lyon
Open University, Buckingham, 1999, p 9

the postmodern refers above all to
the exhaustion - but not necessarily
to the demise - of modernity.

Modern architecture died in St. Louis,
Missouri, on July 15, 1972 at 3.32 pm
when the infamous Pruitt-Igoe scheme,
or rather several of its slab blocks, were
given the final coup de grace by

Charles Jencks
The Language of Post-Modern Architecture

Post-modernism is fundamentally the
eclectic mixture of any tradition with
that of the immediate past: it is both
the continuation of Modernism and its
transcendence. Its best works are
characteristically double-coded and
ironic, making a feature of the wide
choice, conflict and discontinuity of
traditions, because this heterogeneity
most clearly captures our pluralism.

C. Jencks
What is Post-modernism?
Academy Editions, London 1989, p 7

The Post-Modern Age is a time of
incessant choosing. Its an era when
no orthodoxy can be adopted without
self-consciousness and irony, because
all traditions seem to have some
validity. This is partly a consequence
of what is called the information
explosion, the advent of organized
knowledge, world communication
and cybernetics. It is not only the rich
who become collectors, eclectic
travellers in time with a
superabundance of choice, but
almost every urban dweller. Pluralism,
the ism of our time, is both the great
problem, and the great opportunity...

C. Jencks
What is Post-modernism?
Academy Editions, London 1989, p 7

Disneyland is there to conceal the
fact that it is the real country, all of
real America, which is Disneyland.

Disneyland is presented as imaginary
in order to make us believe that the
rest is real, when in fact all of Los
Angeles and the America surrounding
it are no longer real, but of the order
of the hyperreal and of simulation

Simulacra and Simulations

G How does postmodernism affect individual identity?

The transformations of postmodernism and postmodernity are associated,
among other things, with fragmentation, pluralism and individualism
(individual choice). But modernity was also characterized in this way: what
we have with postmodernity is an apparent accentuation of these
developments which reach unprecedented heights. Individual identity, now
based on the ecstasy of communication and consumerism means that all
values and beliefs lose any sense of coherence. The individual is left with the
vertigo of relativity and the abyss of uncertainty (D.Lyon, Postmodernity,
1999, p 61) Baudrillard goes so far as to claim that the individual is no longer
even alienated; rather, s/he is dissolved completely in information and
communication with a feeling of helplessness - unable to retreat into an
interior world of intimacy. For Baudrillard, this brings into being a new form of

It is the end of interiority and intimacy,
the overexposure and transparence of
the world which traverses him without
obstacle. He is now only a pure
screen, a switching centre for all the
networks of influence.

The Ecstasy of Communication

If postmodernity means anything,
it means the consumer society.

David Lyon
Open University, Buckingham, 1999, p 88

Consumerism is global, not in the
sense that all may consume, but in
the sense that all are affected by

David Lyon
Open University, Buckingham, 1999, p 88

J-F Lyotard,
The Postmodern Condition: A Report
on Knowledge, 1984

S. Lash & J. Urry
The End of Organized Capitalism, 1987

J. Baudrillard,
America, 1988

From Moderni ty to Postmodernity ?

C17 - C18

Capitalism gains ascendancy and becomes dominant in agriculture, finance
and trade
Late C18 - Early C19

Industrial revolution
Modern class identities and organisations develop
Late C19

International communications speeded up by sea and telegraph
Monopoly capitalism
Imperialism and colonialism
Early C20

International conflict, nationalism and war
Expansion of the !new middle class" (white-collar workers)
Communist Revolution in Russia initiates alternative route to the modern
Mid C20

Air travel and radio accelerate communications and shrink global distance
Mass production and consumption
Emergence of a consumer society
Development of the welfare state
Late C20 / Early C21: Postmodernity?

Information revolution
Instant electronic communication (mobile, e-mail, internet, satellite systems,
etc.) and mass air travel shrink time and space dramatically
Globalization of manufacturing and finance: rise of transnational
corporations (TNCs)
Growth of new service industries, outsourcing
World markets and niche marketing on a global scale
Accelerated product innovation as marketing and advertising create new
Consumerism as a way of life

Global political linkage: rise of transnational and supranational institutions
Risk and new global threats (global warming, terrorism, global health
scares, etc.)
Local political fragmentation: nationalism and regionalism
Beyond the superpowers: collapse of communism and alternatives to
Decline of class identities and fragmentation of class politics
Rise of new social movements and new global agendas (e.g. climate