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Images of Postmodern Society

Images of Postmodern Society
Social Theory and Contemporary Cinema

August 1991 | 192 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
By using a series of studies of contemporary mainstream Hollywood movies - Blue Velvet, Wall Street, Crimes and Misdemeanors, When Harry Met Sally, Sex Lies and Videotape, Do the Right Thing - Norman Denzin explores the tension between ideas of the postmodern, and traditional ways of analyzing society. The discussion moves between two forms of text: social theory and cinematic representations of contemporary life.

Denzin analyzes the ideas of society embedded in poststructuralism, postmodernism, feminism, cultural studies and Marxism through the ideas of key theorists like Baudrillard, Barthes, Habermas, Jameson, Bourdieu and Derrida. He relates these to the problematic of the postmodern self as exposed in cinema centering on the decisive performance of race, gender and class.

Defining the Postmodern Terrain
Postmodern Social Theory Takes on the Postmodern
Baudrillard, Lyotard, and Jameson

Learning from Mills
Wild About Lynch
Blue Velvet
Nouveau Capitalists on Wall Street
Crimes and Misdemeanors in Manhattan
The Postmodern Sexual Order
Sex, Lies, and Yuppie Love

Do the Right Thing
Race in the USA

Paris, Texas
Mills and Baudrillard in America
In Conclusion
The Eye of the Postmodern

`Denzin is quick to point out how `postmodernism' is a contradiction in terms, but he is clearer than most writers as to what, in its many forms, it actually is. Resistant to definition, Denzin offers several views of postmodernism from different fields, the very variety being a suitable image for the uncertainty of the notion. Denzin does not state it in so many words, but he offers us a Dadaist version of today.... There is really nothing new here philosophically, except to upset those critics who view some of the films reviewed as icons of revolt. Given the generally hopeless picture Denzin portrays of modern Western society, it is hard to go along with his upbeat conclusion where he seeks the reclamation of the self from the postmodern quagmire.... a book well worth reading as its expose of postmodernism has a clarity others would do well to imitate' - NATFHE Journal

`The book begins with one of the clearest and most interesting introductions to the postmodern terrain that I have yet seen, followed by his analysis of `postmodern social theory'... Denzin offers the reader an interesting and illuminating treatment of movies and, by showing how postmodern social theory has failed to make the social world accessible to women, an insightful critique of the work of Baudrillard, Lyotard and Jameson' - Discourse & Society

`Norman Denzin, one of the most interesting theorists and ethnographers in American sociology, has turned his critical eye to postmodern theory and contemporary American culture and society. Revitalizing Mills' sociological imagination, Denzin addresses the relations between Hollywood films of the 1980's, their constructions of self, and the structures of lived experience. He offers a postmodern sociology which addresses the increasingly conservative basis of postmodern ideologies of race, class and gender. It offers an original postmodern critique of the postmodern. Images of Postmodern Society should be and will be widely read and discussed' - Larry Grossberg, University of Illinois

`Denzin uncovers a profoundly important tension in postmodern culture: between identities based on the more stable and coherent ground of race-, class-, and gender-based practices and a self that is increasingly based on the more fleeting and fragmentary image worlds of contemporary corporate culture. Denzin's work, then, demonstrates that the `abundance of meaning' found in these films lies in the collision of modernist and postmodernist depicitions of cultural practice' - Contemporary Sociology

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ISBN: 9780803985162