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Sociological and Social Theory » Postmodern Theory

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405183123.2011.x


The terms “modernity” and “postmo-dernity” are used by critics to designate the ways in which particular historical periods identify themselves and their relations with the past and future. Rather than focusing solely on simple historical chronology, modernity and postmodernity are used to refer to and encompass analyses of the dominant philosophical, social, artistic, and political practices and beliefs of each period; in short, the worldviews generated by them. The two terms almost always occur together, with critics tending to present arguments in favor of one over the other. Despite the comparatively wide use of the two terms, there is little overall consensus about the precise dates of the periods they cover or the defining social, cultural, and intellectual features of either category. Different definitions of and arguments about modernity and postmodernity produced by competing theories and thinkers, however, frequently reveal important things about the political and philosophical premises of the particular critical stance each one has adopted. It is important to note from the outset that although postmodernity and postmodernism are often used by critics as either interchangeable or closely related terms (often with the former as the “condition” in which the latter “style” becomes dominant), the relation between modernity and modernism tends to be somewhat more complicated. ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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