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What are the key features that characterize ‘post modernity’?

Updated on August 29, 2012

What does post modernity mean?

Post modernity, which literally means “after modernity”, is a label given to something that is postmodern, something that has changed considerably since the time of modernity. Post modernity differs from postmodern, in such a way that; one particular thing could be called postmodern, but post modernity is more a way of thinking.  In order to understand post modernity, it is essential to understand the basis of modernity. Modernity is generally said to have been from around the time of the 1850s to the 1950s. This is because of the huge change in society, arts and technology etc. during this era. [1]This is due to many reasons, such as developments in political systems, industrialisation, and one major factor, war. During the first and second world wars, there were many huge advancements in technology, in order to have better equipment to the opposing forces, there were also huge social changes, such as the opinion of wars, before world war one many people would have been happy to go to war, but the amount of deaths of young soldiers dramatically changed peoples opinions. After this time, when things began to advance even more, the name postmodern was given to the new era. This new postmodern time is essentially an era were these new ideas are taken for granted, and are normal opinions, but now some people are creating new ideas, that may not agree or fit in with those of the modern era. Although they have many similarities, post modernity and something that is postmodern are not the same. Post modernity mainly involves developments and changes within technological, economic, political and social ideas.

Features Of Post Modernity: War

One main feature of post modernity would defiantly be war, or the lack thereof. During the modern period there was almost always the shadow of war for most countries in Europe, and also those in Russia and the U.S.A. These were the First World War, the Second World War, and then the cold war. [2]These wars would have dramatically affected people’s thinking during these times, as they would have been very present even back in the main cities that were far from the battlefields. People would have been aware of just how dangerous war was, and how it could disrupt the lives of people who did not even partake in them, but now, in the post modern period, there more of unawareness about wars. While there are defiantly still wars being fought by some major countries, they are all fought far away from western civilisation, and therefore the people are not aware of it as they used to be. Since the modern period, war technology has improved so greatly that it is requiring less and less people to take part in it. Also, in this post modern time, a lot of the wars that are being fought seem to be fought on one side by a very rich and prosperous country with a strong army, against smaller, developing countries, that often have some sort of useful resource in their possession. These days, people have to rely on just hearing about how the war is going, and their only real source of information being the news. Due to the absence of war in the thoughts of many people, some would argue that a feature of post modernity would be the new ignorance of war, and the actions our own governments take in our names.

Features Of Post Modernity : Technology

Another major feature in post modernity is technology. Of all the features, technology is probably the one that has changed the most dramatically since the modern period. This growth has been in pretty much all aspects of technology, for example, communications technology has changed completely in the last few decades. [3]This would also greatly affect the way in which people think in the postmodern period, as now they can easily contact someone on the other side of the planet in a matter of seconds, while in the modern period; it might take a week to send one message to the other side of the country. People now are conscious that they have access to this technology, and it has opened up a whole new side to communicating. The internet is the source of this revolution in communication technology. Emails, instant messengers and social networking websites have changed our way of thinking, and are used so much by people and taken for granted, that for many it would be hard to imagine what it would be like back in the modern period with out these services. Social networking websites have changed the way we live, keep in contact and have also made our lives very public. People’s lives are now open to mere acquaintances as opposed to close friends, and while this is not necessarily a bad thing, it is quite defiantly postmodern.


The main thing about these features of post modernity, is that, while when talked about the may just seem like social progress, or the evolution of technology, but they become features of post modernity when they become a normal part of everyday life, when they are there to be used in a way that was not at all possible in the modern period. On the other hand, post modernity itself is indefinable as it is always evolving and changing.

By S.J Ennis


Lecture Notes
Key Themes in Media Theory - Laughey, D.                                                           2007
The Internet and Society - Slevin, J.                                                                     2000
The Media Students Book - Branston, G. and Stafford, R.                                       2003
Theories of Modernity and Post modernity -  Bryan S. T.                                        1990
[1] Key Themes in Media Theory - Laughey, D. [2] Key Themes in Media Theory / Lecture Notes [3] The Internet and Society - Slevin, J.


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      WhydThatHappen 5 years ago

      I'm pretty sure that an element of postmodernity is an aversion to colonialism (called postcolonialism)- because of an awareness of the aftermath. It is a postmodern way of thinking because it keeps the consequences of past actions in mind, while making decisions about going forward.

    • neakin profile image

      neakin 6 years ago

      Awesome Hub! Look forward to reading more! Thanks for sharing!