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Modernity and Postmodernity

5. Contemporary Relevance

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In this lecture, we think about the contemporary relevance of Lyotard, Baudrillard and Lyotard’s approaches to postmodernity, focusing in particular on: (i) the ways in which Baudrillard’s work on the media can help us to understand the effects of social media; (ii) how Derrida’s deconstructive method can be used to challenge discourses around innate gender and racial differences and understand the rise of religious fundamentalism; (iii) how understandings of postmodernity can contribute to productive critiques of existing democratic societies and enhance democracy.


In this course, Dr Ross Abbinnett (University of Birmingham) explores notions of modernity and postmodernity in sociological theory. In the first lecture, we consider the meaning of modernity and its characteristics. In the second lecture, we look at Jean-François Lyotard’s writing on the postmodern condition, in which common understandings of the world are fractured and society is disunited. In the third lecture, we look at Jean Baudrillard’s work on the mass media, and his ideas of simulation and hyperreality as features of postmodernity. Next, we think about Jacques Derrida’s method of deconstruction. In the fifth and final lecture, we look at how these ideas might be relevant to contemporary society.


Dr Ross Abbinnett is Senior Lecturer in Social and Political Theory at the University of Birmingham. His recent publications include The Neoliberal Imagination: Politics, Aesthetics, and Economics in the Evolution of Hyper-Industrial Capitalism (2021), The Thought of Bernard Stiegler: Capitalism, Technology and the Politics of Spirit (2018) and Marxism After Modernity: Politics, Technology and Social Transformation (2006).

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APA style

Abbinnett, R. (2021, August 24). Modernity and Postmodernity - Contemporary Relevance [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Abbinnett, R. "Modernity and Postmodernity – Contemporary Relevance ." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 24 Aug 2021,

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