Sociology Index


Postmodernism is hard to define, because it is a concept that appears in a wide variety of disciplines or areas of study, including art, architecture, music, film, literature, sociology, communications, fashion culture, and technology. It's hard to locate postmodernism temporally or historically, because it's not clear exactly when postmodernism begins. Theories both of postmodernism and modernity have been based almost exclusively on studying capitalist societies and capitalism in the West. Postmodernism is a complicated term, one that has only emerged as an area of academic study since the mid-1980s. The best way to start thinking about postmodernism is by first thinking about modernism, the movement from which postmodernism grew.

Postmodernism, like modernism, follows most of these same ideas, rejecting boundaries between high and low forms of art, rejecting rigid genre distinctions, emphasizing pastiche, parody, bricolage, irony, and playfulness. Postmodern art and thought favors reflexivity and self-consciousness, fragmentation and discontinuity, especially in narrative structures, ambiguity, simultaneity, and an emphasis on the destructured, decentered, dehumanized subject. But, while postmodernism seems very much like modernism in these ways, it differs from modernism in its attitude toward a lot of these trends. Postmodernism doesn't lament the idea of fragmentation, provisionality, or incoherence, but rather celebrates that. Relation between modernism and postmodernism helps to clarify some of these distinctions. According to Frederic Jameson, modernism and postmodernism are cultural formations which accompany particular stages of capitalism. The phase we're in now, is multinational or consumer capitalism, associated with nuclear and electronic technologies, and correlated with postmodernism.

Talking pomo: An analysis of the postmodern movement by Steve Mizrach
Postmodernism according to friends, foes, and spectators
"Critics of postmodernism come mainly from the Marxist camp. They feel that postmodernism is a diversionary tactic, the last ditch of a late capitalism in the process of dying. Marxists also dislike postmodernism's relativist treatment of science, since as they see 'criticism' and science as being identical. And they are not all too pleased by postmodernism's rejection of the proletariat and industrialism as liberators, nor its insistence that liberation of leisure may be more important than liberation of work... the way postmodernism intertwines with Nietzschean thought, deep ecology, mysticism, and libertarian individualism makes many Marxists view it as right-wing, reactionary, perhaps even fascist!"

Stephen Katz in humourous vein
by Stephen Katz, Associate Professor, Sociology Trent University.
Postmodernism has been the buzzword in academia for the last decade. Books, journal articles, conference themes and university courses have resounded to the debates about postmodernism that focus on the uniqueness of our times, where computerization, the global economy and the media have irrevocably transformed all forms of social engagement. As a professor of sociology who teaches about culture, I include myself in this environment. Indeed, I have a great interest in postmodernism both as an intellectual movement and as a practical problem.

Postmodernism Abstracts

Postmodernism, or The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism - In this essay, Jameson lays out the differences in culture between the modern and postmodern periods. Jameson is concerned with the cultural expressions and aesthetics associated with the different systems of production. He is not interested in a mechanism of change. Jameson draws on the fields of architecture, art and other culturally expressive forms to illustrate his arguments. The heaviest emphasis is placed on architecture. It is essential to grasp postmodernism as discussed here not as a style, but as a dominant cultural form indicative of late capitalism.

Limits of Postmodern Theory- The impetus behind this paper has been the recent publication of Fredric Jameson's 1991 Welleck Lectures, The Seeds of Time. As these lectures were delivered a decade after Jameson's initial attempts to map the terrain of postmodernity it appeared to me to provide an occasion to reflect upon the current status of Jameson's highly influential and much criticised theory of postmodernism as the cultural logic of late capitalism.

Postmodernism: What One Needs to Know, by William Grassie, for Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science, March 1997.
Abstract. Introduction to postmodernism and deconstruction as they relate to the special challenges of scholarship and teaching in the science and religion multidiscipline.

Unacknowledged Roots and Blatant Imitation: Postmodernism and the Dada Movement - David Locher - Dept. of Social Sciences - Missouri Southern State College.
Abstract: This paper is an attempt to stimulate thought and discourse toward postmodern social theory. The writings of Baudrillard and Lyotard are deconstructed with a focus on their conceptualization of the postmodern. This paper is not an attack on the logic or internal consistency of postmodernism, but rather addresses the validity of claims about the unique and original nature of postmodern thought itself. This lack of originality points to a greater question about the validity of the concept of a postmodern era.

Postmodernism is a complicated term, or set of ideas, one that has only emerged as an area of academic study since the mid-1980s. Postmodernism is hard to define, because it is a concept that appears in a wide variety of disciplines or areas of study, including art, architecture, music, film, literature, sociology, communications, fashion, and technology. It's hard to locate it temporally or historically, because it's not clear exactly when postmodernism begins. Perhaps the easiest way to start thinking about postmodernism is by thinking about modernism, the movement from which postmodernism seems to grow or emerge. Modernism has two facets, or two modes of definition, both of which are relevant to understanding postmodernism.

Rethinking Post-Modernity: Some Lessons in "Equal Treatment" of Capitalism and State Socialism, By Zdenek Konopasek, Institute of Sociological Studies, Charles University
Contemporary social theory is untouched by truly sociological analyses of the phenomenon of European State socialism. Theories both of postmodernity and modernity have been based almost exclusively on studying capitalist societies in the West. State socialist societies made themselves visible for the theoretically ambitious sociologists of the post/modern only by their own collapse at the end of the 80s. The postmodern debate helps to retrospectively understand the state socialist (as non-postmodern). With the advent of postmodern era it becomes possible to think about socialism and capitalism symmetrically, in the same terms. Socialism and capitalism can be studied together. Unexpected similarities and parallels emerge, once established asymmetries and distinctions become problematic.

Anachronism of the Moral Sentiments? Integrity, Post-Modernism and Justice - This is an essay about the relationship between post-modernism and justice. My topic is the apparent disjunction between post-modernists' moral and political intuitions on the one hand and their philosophical views and cultural leanings on the other.

Postmodernism Journals

PostModern Culture - P M C - Was founded in 1990 as an experiment in scholarly publishing on the Internet. Postmodern Culture has become the leading electronic journal of interdisciplinary thought on contemporary cultures, publishing the work of such noted authors and critics as Kathy Acker, Charles Bernstein, Bruce Robbins, bell hooks, and Susan Howe.

Books on Postmodernism

Postmodernism: A Graphic Guide to Cutting Edge Thinking by Richard Appiananesi

Modern Art: Impressionism to Post-Modernism by David Britt

Consumer Culture and Postmodernism Book by Mike Featherstone

Who's Afraid of Postmodernism?: Taking Derrida, Lyotard, and Foucault to Church (Postmodern Culture) James K. A. Smith

The Routledge Companion to Postmodernism Book by Stuart Sim (Editor)

Technology, Pessimism, and Postmodernism Book by Yaron Ezrahi (Editor), E. Mendelsohn (Editor), Howard Segal (Editor)

Postmodernism Is Not What You Think: Second Edition Charles Lemert, Charles C. Lemert

Postmodernism and a Sociology of the Absurd and Other Essays on the "Nouvelle Vague" in American Social Science (Studies in American Sociology, V. 5) Book by Stanford M. Lyman

Undoing Culture: Globalization, Postmodernism and Identity Book by Mike Featherstone

Postmodernism and Social Inquiry Book by David R. Dickens, Andrea Fontana (Editors)

The Sociology of Postmodernism (International Library of Sociology Series) Book by Scott Lash

Against Postmodernism : A Marxist Critique Book by Alex Callinicos

The Postmodern Presence: Readings on Postmodernism in American Culture and Society Book by Arthur Asa Berger

Postmodernism and Popular Culture Book by Angela McRobbie

Postmodernism and Management: Pros, Cons and the Alternative (Research in the Sociology of Organizations) Edwin A Locke

Consumer Culture and Postmodernism (Theory, Culture and Society Series) Book by Mike Featherstone

Postmodernism: A Very Short Introduction Book by Christopher Butler

Social Postmodernism : Beyond Identity Politics Book by Linda Nicholson, Steven Seidman, Jeffrey C. Alexander

Leaky Bodies and Boundaries: Feminism, Postmodernism and (Bio)Ethics Book by Margrit Shildrick

Negotiating Postmodernism Book by Wayne Gabardi

Postmodern Social Analysis and Criticism: (Contributions in Sociology) Book by John W. Murphy

Sociology after Postmodernism Book by David Owen (Editor).