The politics of postmodernity

Saul Newman

in Unstable Universalities

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780719071287
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781701522 | DOI:
The politics of postmodernity

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This chapter outlines some of the characteristics of the ‘postmodern condition’ as defined by Jean-François Lyotard. The cultural condition of postmodernity, which emerges with late capitalism, has led to a dislocation of our accepted political reality. Instead of the universal discourses and ‘metanarratives’ of the past, which were founded on the rational certainties of the Enlightenment, there is a severing of the social bond and a general sense of fragmentation in the fields of knowledge, culture, and social relations. This chapter examines the two main responses to the decline of the metanarrative: the ‘foundationalist’ approach, exemplified by Jürgen Habermas, and the anti-foundationalist or broadly termed ‘poststructuralist’ strategy, which seeks to question these foundations. It also examines nihilism, poststructuralism, universality and the role it plays in radical politics.

Keywords: Jean-François Lyotard; nihilism; poststructuralism; universality; radical politics; Enlightenment; Jürgen Habermas; metanarratives; postmodernity; foundationalist approach

Chapter.  10325 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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