Society may argue has strengthened. The current

Society in recent
years experienced a boom which has made it become more ‘modern’ extremely fast.
Some sociologists may argue that we have now reached a state in society by
which we have excelled modernity. The relationship between modernity and
technology as some may argue has strengthened. The current generation of young
adults fails to understand some of the mediums used in the past, from the first
Microsoft windows to now Windows 10, and from the hardback books to Amazon
Kindle.  According to modernist theories,
modernity in contemporary society is one that’s based on the epistemology and
ontology of science and the advancement of creative thinking. Hence, why some
may argue that since the enlightenment period society has undergone rapid
change and developments in aspects of science, knowledge, and technology. For
this reason, we can now be considered to be living in a postmodern era where
individuals and their communities are fragmented. One may say that there is
much evidence within society that these social structures such as families are
now dismantling. Families are now becoming unimportant and losing values as
opposed to early modernity were there was much support of nuclear families and
abstinence from sex before marriage.

However, nowadays
there are increased numbers of divorce, teenage pregnancies, and single-parent
families. Post-modernists do argue that there is a real difference between
postmodern society and modern society in that postmodern societies require a
new theoretical framework and new methods of study. Postmodernists explain that
the real difference between the modernity and postmodernity is that societal
bonds and institutions that previously united people together have much less
influence in contemporary society. Also with the rise of global forces and
technological advancements in the media in contemporary society; people now
have free will to establish the identity and culture they once were. From one
being a 96 baby and not experiencing some forms of early modernity, throughout
this essay one will argue for the postmodernists in that we do live in an era
of postmodernity. However, one does argue that we live in a postmodern society
but not to the extent of what theorists such as Lyotard argue that we are ‘fragmented’
atoms. Baudrillard and Lyotard concluded that the disjunction of modernity has
led to ambiguity, weak morals and postmodernity. On the other hand, theorists
such as Bauman and Giddens are aware of rapid change in societal
infrastructures, but they argue that we are very much still in modernity, just
‘late modernity’ or what Giddens referred to in his theory as, ‘high modernity’
(1991) and Bauman referred to as, ‘liquid modernity’ (1989).

When discussing
modernity there are certain keywords associated with this period, words like
capitalism, urbanization, production, and industrialisation.  In early modernity, economic production is
based on industrialisation and capitalism with class structures as the form of
social division. Marx’s believed that in the industrial society’s social and
economic position were initially based on social classes. For instance, the
bourgeoisie (ruling class) were those who owned business and the proletariat
(working class) were those who sold their labour to them in exchange for wages.
In Early modernity about 18th-20th centuries, the population of teenagers grew
as resulted of the ‘baby boom’ following the World War II. Therefore, the
growth of cities expanded as the populations increased, thousands of families
moved to the cities to work and provide for their families. Epistemological
knowledge during this period derived from positivist Scientology and rational
thinking as opposed to religion and superstitions. Individuals in this era
turned to logical thinking and science for interpretation of the world and
natural disasters such as tremors, hurricanes tend to have been explained by
science than by religious explanations. 
In addition, the power of the bureaucratic state played an important
role in the stages of early modernity in that they provided the equality of
opportunities by introducing compulsory free education for children, public
housing and welfare state benefits for those beyond the poverty lines.

Furth more,
according to the sociologist Berman there are three stages of modernity that
have taken place in previous centuries. 
First would be early modernity which rose from about 16th century to the
18th century, he argues that this is when people began to live in a modern way.  Following early modernity would be ‘classic
modernity’ which was between from about 18th century to the 20th century. This
type of modernity showed serious signs of revolution across Western countries
such as France who were experiencing constant change, progression, and growth
in their population. Lastly, the third stage would be the 20th-century
contemporary society we live in now where everything is supposedly fragmented
and shows signs of loss off meanings in daily activities (Berman, 1983).

Moreover, Zygmunt
Bauman another modernist thinker addressed the 20th century as noted above as
the era of ‘liquid modernity’, where people become more skeptical of their
morals and are also reflexive. By reflexivity, one explains that it is the
process in which people are constantly re-valuating ideas as tradition and
custom can no longer assist as a guide to how we are expected to act. Like
Giddens and Beck, Bauman perceived modern society as symbolised by a need for
law and order in order for people to predict understand society so that society
is easily regulated. In his book, Bauman rejects the term ‘postmodern’
concluding that this term was problematic. Therefore he coined new terms to
describe the predicament of constant mobility, changes in relationships,
networks, and identities within contemporary society. Bauman states that
instead of a transition from modernity and postmodernity, society has
progressed from ‘solid modernity’ to a more limitless liquid form of solidarity
(1989). For instance, in contemporary society, we have moved from an era of the
impossible to a new era where individuals are in constant search for multiple
social experiences. For example, the bond between time and space enables cheap
travel to various parts of the world where one can create a new identity if
needed as adherence to indigenous culture. 

In addition to the
point above, as Bauman called it ‘liquid modernity’, Beck also named it ‘second
modernity’. Beck took a conclusive approach to explaining that we now live in a
‘risk society’. We are constantly facing new risk such as environmental harm
for example. These ‘manufactured risks’ stem not from nature but from
technological advancements. Beck stressed that in this era we see increased
individualisation hence why there is more risk to deal with. An example of this
would be one I have touched on in the introduction of this essay. The breaking
up families due to reflexivity and social risks such as divorce, unemployment,
and affairs; assessing these situations individuals usually turn to new
solutions of dealing with the problem. Another contemporary example of Becks
work could be of recreational drugs.  The
consumption of recreational drugs has dramatically increased since the 1980’s
due to the renovations of the clubbing scenes. According to the Home Office
Survey in the South of England, 79% of clubbers have been in contact with
recreational drugs such as cannabis, ketamine, MDMA, and cocaine being the most
used. The reason for this could be that users view drugs as an integral part of
their lives and the heightened clubbing experience is what keep these young
adults interested and addicted to recreational drug taking.

 Furthermore, Beck supported Giddens work in
that they both perceived ‘high modernity’ as an era of growing
individualisation.  Giddens argues that
in early modernity human interactions were inhibited by time and space. For
instance, if you applied for a job outside of town for the job interview
individuals were expected to travel however far the vacancy is. However, in
contemporary society technological advancement has brought about portable
social and business devices such as iPhone, Android, IPad, and Laptops. The
invention of these gadgets bridges the barriers between time and space as
individuals nowadays can conduct an interview for a job in another city through
applications such as Facetime, Whatsapp and Skype. This idea of breaking down
geographical barriers of time and space is what Giddens coined as,
‘Disembedding’. Giddens (1991) argued that reflexivity and disembedding are the
two main ingredients accountable for the widespread nature of rapid social
change in high modernity and by allowing social interactions to disperse at a
rapid pace around the world this helps drive the globalisation process. Giddens
also insisted that in the pre-modernity period society was regulated largely by
tradition. Individuals in such traditional cultures it became habitual for
people not to think much about how to act in the various social setting because
behaviour and actions were prescribed and regulated by existing norms and
values.

 However, Giddens states that ‘high modernity’
is represented by a ‘post-traditional’ culture which rejects customs and
tradition and allows people to have a greater power in reflexivity and free
will on governing how they act. For instance, in ‘not just a label’ article the
writer cites Andrew Hill pointing out that, “Clothing is no longer associated
with the type of social hierarchies it once was”. The example used in the
article concluded, “For example, exposing female flesh in the 19th century gave
the impression of prostitution, whereas now it can signify any number of things
such as relaxation or wanting to appear attractive to the opposite sex”. In
other words, this goes to show that as tradition lost its power on morality
people became the center of their own responsibility and agency.

On the other hand,
postmodernists’ thinker such as Lyotard and Baudrillard believe that we have
now reached the end of an era of modernity. 
Baudrillard was a controversial French philosopher, whose concepts and
ideas proved significant when understanding or discussing postmodernism. In his
book, ‘Simulations and Simulacra’ Baudrillard conveys stressed how
globalisation in contemporary society has allowed for the inventions of new
media technological advancement. The media represents reality for most beings
in society in that we find news, music, and entertainment to shape our
knowledge, behaviour, and attitudes. However, Baudrillard argued that patterns
have shown that due to too much exposure to the media we now live in a ‘virtual
society’ where there is a distorted sense of reality or as Baudrillard coined
‘Hyperreality’. Hyperreality occurs as the result of living in simulacra
creating a consumption culture where beings in society lose the meaning of
morals and value, solidarity and families. In simulacra, identity is gained
from consumption, fashion, mass media and images of what we perceive on a daily
basis. For instance, the invention of Xbox and PlayStation in contemporary
society exposes graphic images and fantasies to children at an early age
creating demand and resulting in teenagers excluding themselves from having a
social life. Multiple identities at this age are gained by the ability to
create different accounts with fake profiles when gaming.

In addition, the
internet has also enabled for limitless identities whenever one chooses to on
various platforms. Societal infrastructures such as employment, labour, and
class have lost their importance in contemporary society as we see the decline
in politics and trade unions. Such movements have been replaced by new ‘social
movements’ in contemporary society, for instance, the rise in movements based
on feminism, LGBT rights, and racism. Therefore in a postmodern society,
consumption and status are the main regulators of action and behaviour.
However, a Marxists critic would be that though there is a constant taste of
freedom and free will people living in postmodernity are slaves to the global
elites who own capital and produce what people are wearing and buying. One may
agree with the Marxist critic for the point above because there continue to be
competition between youths especially in contemporary society for style and
character. For example, youths and adults in today’s age have become victims of
buying signs or logos on various garments. People are paying up to £3000 for
shoes and up to £10000 for designer clothes. Designers such as Gucci, Louis
Vuitton, and D&G have become popular in contemporary society and status is
gained by who has the best style and taste in designers.   

Moreover, Lyotard
was also a French philosopher and a self-conscious proponent of the postmodern
position. Although Lyotard’s work covers a broad range of disciplines, he is
most famous for his detailed report in his book, The Postmodern Condition:  A Report on Knowledge (1979). Lyotard’s
primary concern in his report is knowledge and its changing organisation in
contemporary society.  He states that
prior to the Second World War knowledge was sanctioned by what he called, ‘metanarratives’
or ‘grand narratives’.  According to the
Oxford dictionary metanarratives are, “An overarching account or interpretation
of events and circumstances that provide a pattern or structure for people’s beliefs
and gives meaning to their experiences”. In other words, a narrative of
narratives of historical experience, meanings or knowledge which offers society
comfort in providing clear-cut explanations for why things are how they
are.  For example, science and the chase
for empirical facts, systems of religious thoughts like Christianity, Marxism,
and Functionalism. Lyotard stressed that changes in structures in contemporary
society have brought about ‘profound skepticism’ towards the licitness of
metanarratives and this suspicion against metanarratives is the trademark of
postmodernity. Lyotard’s beliefs led him into defining postmodernism simply as
the, ‘incredulity of metanarratives’.

In addition, In
regard to globalisation Lyotard believes that the age of the computer plays a
major role in the development of storage, manipulation, and rationalisation of
knowledge. He argues that knowledge has become commercialised as computer
information technology enables for knowledge to get fragmented and sold. In
other words, it is not important what one knows anymore but it is important
whether one can afford to buy what they need to know. One agrees with Lyotard
on this point as for instance in contemporary there are a lot of ways to gain
knowledge for e.g. books, internet, and mobile phones. Therefore, for advanced
knowledge in various disciplines we have become consumers in that we buy
information from each other easily, for example, Google books or Amazon or even
buying DVD’s that will help expand our knowledge of interest.

In conclusion,
though society has changed significantly over the past decades. One does not
believe it is for the worst instead globalisation has increased the
connectedness of families, networks and relationships abroad which is very
beneficial in that there are no barriers in one’s expeditions. Other forms of
informal social agents such as school, policing, and role models still act as a
guide for young adults to learn morals and one truly believes we have not
completely cut off ties with families and friends. An example would be that
when in crisis or major catastrophes such as hurricanes, earthquakes, and
tremors we see a sense of community as people help each other get back up. This
argues ones point that we have not become completely individualistic and that
morals and values are naturally instilled in our systems from early
childhood.