SOC 233 November 23, 2011
Modernity & Post-Modernity
Note – There is debate as to whether we are in a Modern, or Post-Modern state.
Dynamic process of shaping our social world.
Modernity: Characterized by a particular outlook on the world, which sets itself against tradition.
Industrialization, division of labour, urbanization, technology, mass communications, rise of
bureaucracy, decline of community, decline of religion, and the rise of science.
Rise of Science: Complete mastery of all areas of human life through science.
A whole new set of ideas shaping our human existence; shaping our social world.
Note – Structural and social changes.
1. Economic Production
Social classes based on economic relations are still a fundamental mode with which we structure
Movement from rural, to urban centres.
3. Bureaucratic State
Powerful states can exercise power over non-powerful states and people.
Increasingly gaining knowledge through science.
Rational, scientific thinking, not religion, driving pursuit of knowledge.
World is supposed to be improving. Postmodernism
Postmodern: Fewer regulations over our behaviour than in the past through increased individualism and
Truth is socially constructed.
Based upon the discourses or interpretations that are created in society.
Breakdown of all aspects of society, so as to not impose limitations on the theory.
There is no truth, there is no reality; series of truths and realities, in which one is no better than
Note – There is no pattern of social reality, because there is no social reality.
Challenges the idea that we can hold theories that develop over different stages.
eg) Social Class as a Basis for Power – Social class is a discourse, not a basis for power.
Note – Race, class, gender, SES, etc. are all discourses, not analytical concepts we can use.
Class Example – Gender
Masculine and feminine are not the only two genders.
People can choose to live their lives in various genders, and the focus is on the myriad of ways
individuals choose to live their lives.
Note – No one truth is more accurate or real than the other.
Experiences can only be understood in DISCOURSES or interpretations.
Key Features of Postmodernity:
1. Growth of Service Sector
eg) Part-time, flex-time.
We cannot just look at labour relations, because there are a multitude of options as we grow a
2. Spread of Globa