Criticisms of Postmodernism

Last Updated on April 20, 2016 by

While most sociologists agree that modern society is more fragmented and uncertain, they disagree with some elements of post-modernism


a. Lyotard’s idea about the collapse of grand narratives can be criticised because it is itself a ‘grand narrative’

b. Frederick Jamieson argued that Post-Modernism is the ‘cultural logic of late capitalism’ – In the same way as modernist social theories are products of modernity – so post-modernism is a product of advanced capitalism – Capitalism has produced a world of fantastical objects and lifestyles – which invites those of lucky enough to be able to afford it to play rather than worry about the conditions under which our goods and services are produced – Post-modern thought which focuses on ‘how we play’ rather than worrying about the big problems that face us (poverty etc) could be seen as being similar to what the Transnational Capitalist Class want of us – that we identify ourselves as consumers and play rather than worry about the ‘dual logics of exploitation’ (people and planet) that lie behind the productive processes of late-Capitalism.

c. Zygmunt Bauman argues that it is Capitalism that has produced this unstable post-modern world in which we live…And It tends to be the poor that experience instability in a negative way (think refugees) while the rich experience it in a positive way (we can ‘play in our consumer playground and avoid the worst bits of the world). If we want a better world we need to figure out a way of being more in control of what kind of world we are creating, rather than just accepting our fate as consumers and playing like little children. Lyotar’ds idea that now we are ‘free from the tyranny of metanarratives’ that’s as good it gets’ denies our capacity as humans to act collectively for the common good.

d. Building on the above – thinkers on the left argue that p-m is a middle class, intellectual view point – a luxury of the chattering class – the new proletariat in the developing world may not see the relevance of post-modernism to their lives.

e. Social thought that focuses on how we construct our identities in a world of hyper-reality is uncritical. One might argue that it suffers from a ‘myopia of the visible’. Just because the world appears more fragmented, and just because our media-mediated world is removed from reality doesn’t mean there isn’t a reality out there that needs to be understood – Lets face it once the oil runs out and three quarters of the planet is dying because of global warming ‘actual reality’ might once again begin to seem to be more real than hyper reality.

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