Postmodern Social and Cultural Fragmentation

The postmodern perspective has been widely influential in many academic areas outside sociology. Postmodern theorists in sociology vary in terms of their primary focus of analysis, but they concentrate heavily on contemporary issues and trends. They would generally argue that current trends mark the end of the period of human history associated with the development of modern society, which has long been characterized and largely defined by scientific advance, industrialism, capitalism, urbanism, and bureaucracy. Although these features of the social world continue to be relevant, the focus is on the emergence of a radically different postmodern period. The distinctive characteristics of this new postmodern period are evident in many areas of social life, including personal relationships, lifestyles, and identity formation at the micro level and restructuring of economic hierarchies, increased cultural fragmentation and relativism, and globalization in all its different dimensions at the macro level.

Without being exhaustive, this chapter will highlight the following postmodern themes that various sociologists have highlighted:

  • Postmodernity versus late modernity

  • Skepticism regarding systems of knowledge and authority

  • Increasing global interdependence

  • Mass media effects on cultural erosion and fragmentation

  • Culture as strategies for escaping mundane reality through expanded and enchanted consumption experiences

  • The challenge of identity formation in a late modern or postmodern world

  • Cultural expressiveness applied to human beings’ bodies.


Social World Social Location Gated Community Iconic Representation Late Modernity 
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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

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