Modernity and Postmodernity – A Summary

Technological changes, globalisation and the move from Modernity to Postmodernity

Two key processes which underpin the move from ‘Modernity’ to ‘Postmodernity’ are technological changes and globalisation. The development of satellite communications and transport technologies seem to be the main causes of globalisation, or the increasing interconnectedness of people across the world. Today we live in a truly global economy with many products in the UK produced in other parts of the world, and many British products being exported to other countries. Cultural globalisation has also taken place – with more people moving and communicating with each other across the world. We also face a number of shared global problems – such as new risky technologies and ecological problems. There are many different perspectives on Globalisation, but it is hard to argue that it is happening and that we have moved into a post-modern era as a result

Modernity (1650 – 1970s ish)

Postmodernity 1970s – Present Day

Industrial and Economic Contexts

  • Industrial economies – Production is central – jobs for life

  • Nation State, most people vote and are in trades unions

  • Organised/ Heavy Capitalism and the Welfare State

  • Post-Industrial, service sector, portfolio workers and consumption is central

  • Declining power of the Nation State

  • Disorganised Capitalism/ Liquid Capitalism (Bauman)

Features of Society

  • Culture reflects the underlying class and patriarchal structures

  • Nuclear family the norm, marriage for life

  • Identities shaped/ constrained by class position/ sex. (*)

  • Media – one way communication, reflects ‘reality’

  • Culture is free from structure – it is more Diverse and Fragmented

  • Relationships more diverse

  • More Individual Freedom to shape identities

  • Media – more global, two- way, hyperreality (Baudrillard)

Attitudes to Knowledge

  • Enlightenment – Science/ Objective Knowledge

  • Truth and Progress

  • Critique of the Enlightenment (Foucault)

  • Incredulity towards Metanarratives (Lyotard)

The role of Sociology

  • Positivism/ Functionalism – doing research to find how societies function and gradually building a better world

  • Marxism/ Feminism – concerned with emancipation – freeing individuals from oppression.

  • Narrative histories (Foucault) done on an individual basis

  • Deconstruction (Lyotard) and Destabilising Theory (Judith Butler)

Unfortunately grids don’t cut and past that well into WordPress. A much neater version of the above grid can be found in my Theory and Methods Revision Notes, along with summaries of all the other perspectives too…

Functionalism notes

The notes cover the following sub-topics:

  1. Functionalism
  2. Marxism
  3. Feminism
  4. Social Action Theory
  5. Postmodernism
  6. Late Modernism
  7. Sociology and Social Policy