Wednesday, 11 April 2007

Postmodern culture Pt 1

I thought I'd jot down some thoughts on characteristics of postmodern culture. I'm trying not to be too evaluative.

1. Emphasis upon identity, self-worth. Life is project. I need to realize and fulfil myself in constant new ways as there is no one way to realize myself. Live for free time – hobbies, experiences.

2. Image – appearance, clothes, body = expression of who I am.

3. Change – fragmented identity and discontinuity in who I am. I live out a number of constantly changing roles/contexts. Highly mobile i.e. moving from one job to another, from one geographical location to another. Left unsure about how to live. No real sense of a link or common thread in who I am.
Relationships short-term, ever-changing.

4. Friendships. They are more important and self-defining than family.

5. Personal sense of freedom is the greatest good - even if I have to sacrifice other freedoms to get it. Choice and the power to make own decisions is crucial. I decide how I want to live. Develop my own identity through my choices (one of major objections to God is that He denies my freedom, crushes me. He's despotic. Or the church will control me, judge me).

6. Scepticism to absolutes. Open-mindedness is key. Rebelliousness and distrust of established authorities. Suspicion with regard to power relationships, dislike of ecclesiastical control(at times verging on paranoia). Dislike of 'them.' Pessimism about grand narratives – politics not do anything. Cynicism. Concern with the local, immediate. People open to new stories. Leads to fragmentation – lack of coherence in my own stories or understanding of what I believe.

7. Nihilism with a smile e.g. The Simpsons. Irony is everything, we mustn't take ourselves too seriously. Playful. Dislike of cliches.

8. Unsure about goodness, morality. There is though an unself-conscious new morality based on freedom to choose. Values that are particularly valued: self-irony, humility about own assertions, empathy, love, respect for others, tolerance, openness.

9. Sexual liberation is obvious. No real boundaries for sex apart from non-consent from other and abuse.

10. A desire for relationships. Want romance, love that lasts... though paradoxically no-one wants to commit. Deep contradictory attitude to relationships. Tendency towards narcissism. High level of individualism though also wanting community.

11. Pressures of modern life – demanding jobs, children, less time, expectation of being good employee, parent etc. Demands to care for world – environment. 'Compassion fatigue'.

Some more are coming soon....!