It is not a clear break between the old and the new. Medicare’s introduction for medicine rebate of alternative medicine would be symbolic evidence for Baudrillard that modernity is over. Plural realities are another significant feature under postmodernism. Lyon (1999) refers to this as the acceptance of multiple realities and suggests it is the accumulation of diverse cultural experiences. He does not suggest the demise of any of these realities. Kumar however, suggests a more destructive social perspective by explaining that the emerging of plural realities has led to the fragmentation of society.
Some Development workers, prefer to celebrate the coming together of diverse cultures and experiences according to Lyon’s definition instead of Kumar’s pessimist account. However, critics of AID workers and NGO’s transporting cultural imperialism in the name of progress, would side with Kumar in arguing that original cultures and traditions are increasingly facing fragmentation. Here postmodernism is the exhaustion of modernist ‘progress’ and emancipation transported beyond the boundaries of one’s own nation-state.
Saussure’s focus on language and Derrida’s focus on text both demonstrate the significance of semiology and texts to convey how difference is obtained using the same object (or signifier) in another context. Another important characteristic of postmodeernism is the pastiche, of values like beauty and functionality for example. Harvey (1989) describes functional city planning under modernity as high density and centralised, and non-functional city planning as decentralized. Architecture in Eastern Germany for instance adopted rational and functional ways of development compared with West Germany’s focus on progressive aesthetic.
Modernism sought the sacrifice of beauty for the pursuit of functionality, but under postmodernism, there is an understanding that aesthetics and functionality can coexist. IKEA furniture for example minimalist space saving functionality merged with aesthetics. Finally, another significant feature of postmodernism is the celebration of difference rather than good or bad. This concept rejects all moral principles. Writers like Kumar call it nihilism. Expansion of religious beliefs and local knowledge are some examples in the West. This has led to the emergence of political correctness and the acceptance of difference.
Disability groups prefer to view difference as desirable more than acceptable. There is evidence to suggest that difference can sometimes bring confusion due to its ambiguous nature and through the variations of choice. For instance workplace diversity has resulted in greater numbers of people with disabilities entering the labour force. In this case, diversity has been desirable and seen as ‘progressive’ in western societies. Alternatively, some differences such as religious practices can be seen as undesirable. One such example is the suspicion towards Islam in the Western world or some practices of female circumcision.
Here it demonstrates how confusion arises in postmodern condition as tolerance towards difference spreads in uneven directions across societies. Postmodernism and post modernization Despite having discussed above the key features of postmodernism, it remains difficult to provide a clear stand-alone description. David Lyon (1999) has provided the most palatable explanation of postmodernism, taking into account modernism. He describes postmodernism as an evolving process between modernity and postmodernity. The process could be the extension of modernity or the collapse of modernity.
Lyon suggests this process can incorporate this at the same time depending on the circumstance. Moreover, it means some elements of modernity can be abandoned while others are maintained. Lyon writes that postmodernism and post-modernity need to be viewed in terms of each other. Postmodernism refers to the cultural experience, while postmodernity he argues refers to the social experience. In the case of producing, consuming and distribution of symbolic goods, Lyon writes that this process merges the boundaries between hierarchies and systems of knowledge.
Lyon explains the social and the cultural cannot exist without each other. However, Lyon is one of the writers to raise the following theoretical arguments on postmodernism. Modernism : dead or alive? Some critics like Crook et al, Connor & Bertens and Natoli prefer to focus on how society is not modern to give an idea of what postmodernism is. Some critics like Baudrillard and Lyotard, argue that there is a clear end to modernism and beginning to postmodernism. These writers are vague about their description of postmodernism yet seem to debate the prevalence or death of modernity.