Featherstone wisely notes the danger of "simply relabelling experiences as postmodern which were formerly granted little significance," and laments that many definitions of postmodernism are too loose and vague to be useful. Yet, even if contemporary thinkers are simply re-packaging established patterns of social and cultural life, it is worth a sociologist's time to ask why this is happening. In any case, Featherstone does think that there are changes taking place in contemporary culture that can plausibly be labeled as postmodern. He writes:
"Postmodernism is of interest to a wide range of artistic practices and social science and humanities disciplines because it directs our attention to changes taking place in contemporary culture. These can be understood in terms of (1) the artistic, intellectual and academic fields (changes in modes of theorization, presentation and dissemination of work which cannot be detached from changes in specific competitive struggles occurring in particular fields); (2) changes in the broader cultural sphere involving modes of production, consumtion and circulation of symbolic goods which can be related to broader shifts in the balance of power and interdependencies between groups and class fractions on both inter- and intra-societal levels; (3) changes in the everyday practices and experiences of different groups, who as a result of some of the processes referred to above, may be using regimes of signification in different ways and developing new means of orientation and identity structures."
posted by Peter J. Leithart on Thursday, February 16, 2006 at 03:52 PM
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