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Postmodernity: what it is and what philosophy characterizes it

Postmodernity: what it is and what philosophy characterizes it

June 25, 2022

In order to explain and understand the social transformations that cross us, in western societies we have generated different knowledge frameworks, which include different concepts and theories. This is how we have generated and divided the history of ideas from branches that generally go from the origins from Greek philosophy to the present time.

The latter, the current era, has been named in many different ways, among which is the concept of postmodernity . In this article we will see some definitions of this term, as well as some of its main characteristics.

  • Related article: "The 6 differences between modernity and postmodernity"

What is postmodernity?

Postmodernity is the concept that refers to the state or sociocultural climate that western societies are currently going through. The latter includes a subjective and intellectual dimension, but it also has to do with political and economic organization, as well as artistic activity . And this is because they all refer to the different phenomena that are configured in our societies, and at the same time make our societies are configured.


On the other hand, it is called "postmodernity" or "postmodernity" because the prefix "post" makes it possible to establish points of rupture with the previous epoch, which we know as "modernity". This means that it is not that modernity has ended, but rather that it has been crossed: there are some global elements that have undergone important transformations, with which some local and subjective phenomena have also been transformed .

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Postmodernism or postmodernism?

The difference between the two concepts is that the first refers to the cultural state and how the institutions and lifestyles that were characteristic of modernity have been modified, giving rise to new processes and ways of life.


The second concept, that of postmodernism, refers to the new ways of understanding the world in terms of knowledge production .

In other words, the first concept makes a clearer reference to changes in social and cultural configuration; while the second refers to changes in the way of generating knowledge, which involves new epistemological paradigms that impact scientific or artistic production, and that ultimately affect subjectivities.

To put it even more briefly, the term "postmodernity" refers to a sociocultural situation of a particular period, which is that of late twentieth century and early twenty-first (dates vary according to the author). And the term "postmodernism" refers to an attitude and an epistemic position (to generate knowledge), which is also the result of the sociocultural situation of the same period.


Origins and main characteristics

The beginnings of postmodernity vary according to the reference, the author or the specific tradition that is analyzed. There are those who say that postmodernity is not a different era, but an actualization or extension of modernity itself. The truth is that the boundaries between one and the other are not completely clear. However, we can consider different events and processes that were relevant to generate important transformations.

1. Political-economic dimension: globalization

The term "postmodernity" differs from the term of globalization insofar as the first gives an account of the cultural and intellectual state and the second gives an account of the organization and global expansion of capitalism as an economic system, and democracy as a political system .

However both are related concepts that have different meeting points. And this is because postmodernism has started in part through the process of political and economic transformation that has generated what we can call "post-industrial societies." Companies where production relationships went from being industry-focused to being mainly focused on technology management and communication.

On the other hand, globalization, whose boom is present in postmodernity, refers to the global expansion of capitalism . Among other things, the latter has had as a consequence the reformulation of the socioeconomic inequalities displayed by modernity, as well as lifestyles strongly based on the need for consumption.

2. Social dimension: media and technologies

Those institutions that in previous times defined our identity and sustain social cohesion (because our roles in the social structure made it very clear to us, with almost no possibility of imagining anything else), lose stability and influence. These institutions are replaced by the entry of new media and technologies.

The above creates a subjection importance to these means, because they are positioned as the only mechanisms that allow us to know "reality". Some sociological theories suggest that this creates a "hyperreality" where what we see in the media is even more real than what we see outside of them, which makes us conceive very closely the phenomena of the world.

However, according to how it is used, new technologies have also had the opposite effect: they have served as a tool of subversion and important questioning .

3. Subjective dimension: fragments and diversity

After the Second World War, the epoch we know as modernity entered a process of breakdown and transformation that weakened the pillars of order and progress (main characteristics of scientific and social revolutions), so that from then on the criticism of excessive rationality expands , as well as a crisis of the values ​​that had marked the traditional relations.

This has as one of its effects a large number of devices for the construction of subjectivities: on the one hand, an important fragmentation of the same subjectivities and community processes is generated (individualism is reinforced and also accelerated links and lifestyles are generated) and fleeting, which are reflected for example in fashion or in the artistic and musical industry).

On the other hand, it is possible to visualize diversity. The individuals then we are more free to build both our identity and our social articulations and new ways of understanding the world as well as ourselves and ourselves are inaugurated

Bibliographic references

  • Bauman, Z. (1998). Viewpoint Sociology and postmodernity. Retrieved June 18, 2018. Available at //journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/j.1467-954X.1988.tb00708.x.
  • Brunner, J.J. (1999). Cultural globalization and postmodernity. Chilean Journal of Humanities, 18/19: 313-318.
  • Review Sociology (2016). From Modernity to Post-Modernity. Retrieved June 18, 2018. Available at //revisesociology.com/2016/04/09/from-modernity-to-post-modernity/.

Jordan Peterson doesn't understand postmodernism (June 2022).


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