On the Postmodern Condition




Carroll, Sean

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UTSA Office of Undergraduate Research


As a cultural movement, Postmodernism begun to solidify itself since the 1970s. Despite what some may say of its necessarily unstructured nature, coherent reflection about it is useful. While there is a growing literature on this topic, the present study, as suggested by David Harvey, seeks to use an historical, materialist framework, as developed by Karl Marx, to interpret postmodern culture. To do this, I began with the studies of the substructures of postmodern culture (political-economic and material conditions), and then sought to find reflective cohesion among its ‘aesthetic’ superstructures (social, philosophical, cinematic, literary, and musical) and their underlying conditions. As a result, from these studies, I found that the aesthetic sentiments of postmodern culture quite neatly map onto the material conditions, which inform its context. These sentiments imply a complicit disposition towards many aspects of late capitalism (such as consumerism and alienation). These findings are significant because it forces postmodernism to take a more honest look at itself, and become self-aware of its implications. My findings imply that if postmodern sentiments truly want to harbor an activism toward the status quo, it must first realign itself with more unifying attitudes. While a single resolution has yet to be concluded, the present study provides some general directions for positive change.



undergraduate student works, Postmodern, postmodernism, aesthetics, political-economy, historical materialism, capitalism