Culture and Postmodernism
The most influential claim that we have entered into a postmodern condition has been made by Jean-François Lyotard, who suggests that the ‘metanarratives’ by which science has claimed legitimacy since the late eighteenth century are no longer credible. The metanarratives he is referring to are philosophical — the Hegelian narrative of the evolution of self-consciousness — and political — that of human emancipation. Marxism, in its indebtedness to Hegel and its emancipatory commitments, is clearly one — possibly the most prominent — school of thought to be subject to such incredulity, and though the term ‘postmodernism’ seems to be increasingly out of favour these days its intellectual bearings remain largely in place, all the moreso, indeed, for having become almost a sort of common sense. Indeed, the ubiquity of the ‘post-’ prefix to describe a number of more or less recent intellectual currencies is a testimony to this common sense — poststructuralism, postmarxism, postfordism, postfeminism, postcolonialism (each of which might be taken as symptomatic of or a contributory element to a postmodern consciousness). The ideological bearings of that prefix are worth hesitating over for a moment, implying as it does supersession — historical, intellectual; possibly, though not necessarily, both — and greater sophistication, though such connotations combine frequently with a reluctance to fill the void with (too much) content and a contradictory wariness for the most part about subscribing to a belief in ‘progress’.
KeywordsCulture Industry Symbolic Order Critical Practice Flexible Accumulation Philosophical Advocate
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