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Modernity and Postmodernity

2. Jean-François Lyotard and the Postmodern Condition

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About this Lecture


In this lecture, we think about the concept of postmodernity through Jean-François Lyotard’s work The Postmodern Condition (1979), focusing in particular on: (i) Lyotard’s account of the fracturing of traditional religious worldviews through the Enlightenment, and especially the division of knowledge into separate disciplines; (ii) his claim that this brought about a concurrent fracturing of social life; (iii) his argument that since around the 1960s, this has led to a sense of dislocation and normlessness which characterises the postmodern condition; (iv) Lyotard’s concept of the aesthetic and the role of culture industries in postmodernity.


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).

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Abbinnett, R. (2021, August 24). Modernity and Postmodernity - Jean-François Lyotard and the Postmodern Condition [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Abbinnett, R. "Modernity and Postmodernity – Jean-François Lyotard and the Postmodern Condition." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 24 Aug 2021,

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