Modern Conditions: Postmodern Controversies

Modern Conditions: Postmodern Controversies

Modern Conditions: Postmodern Controversies

Modern Conditions: Postmodern Controversies

Synopsis

In this accomplished, comprehensive and accessible book Barry Smart explores these questions. The book examines the social and economic processes which have shaped and continue to shape life today. It also provides exemplary critical assessments of the various 'modern' and 'postmodern' thinkers who have sought to explain these processes. Judicious in its judgements and superbly informed, the text is a major contribution to the debate on Modernity and Postmodernity.

Excerpt

Change constitutes an increasingly prominent aspect of modern life. Indeed it might be regarded as the defining feature, for modern times are generally held to be changing times. Certainly the prospect of change now seems to be perpetually present, as both promise and threat. And if the possibility and the expectation of change has become virtually a routine feature of everyday life, a commonplace, the reality of change is no less evident. Extensive and intensive processes of social, cultural, economic, and political change, and the impact of such transformations upon experiences of everyday life, make it increasingly difficult to dispute the view that the world seems to be changing in fundamental ways. But it is precisely in such circumstances that it becomes necessary to proceed with a degree of caution, to recall that radical forms of change are by no means confined to the present, and to remember that although change increasingly constitutes the focus of our attention it may nevertheless be 'not the rule but the exception in social life' (Heilbroner 1961, p. 195). In short, as Touraine has observed, 'social life cannot be reduced to change' (1982, p. 233).

A number of analysts and commentators seem, however, to be in little doubt that the present era constitutes a significant moment in history, a turning point, a time of transition and radical change. Ideas abound concerning the 'end of history' (Fukuyama), the 'end of the social' (Baudrillard), as well as the end of industrial society and the promise of the Enlightenment (Touraine). Signs of significant forms of change have been identified in a number of different areas, in scientific knowledge and technology; culture and communications; work, industry, and economic life; political organisations and movements; and social relationships and forms of subjectivity. For example, it has been argued that the increasing internationalisation of . . .

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