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The idea of postmodernism poses a fundamental challenge to established modes of understanding society. Postmodern theory represents individuals in the contemporary world as voyeurs adrift in a sea of symbols, knowing and seeing themselves through mediated images from cinema and television.
In this book Norman Denzin uses a series of studies of contemporary mainstream Hollywood movies to explore 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 (Mills, Baudrillard, Barthes, Habermas, Jameson, Bourdieu, Derrida and others). He relates these ideas to the problematic of the postmodern self as exposed in cinema - Blue Velvet, Wall Street, Crimes and Misdemeanors, When Harry Met Sally, sex lies and videotape, Do the Right Thing - centering on the decisive performance of race, gender and class.
Images of Postmodern Society moves beyond a simply theoretical analysis of postmodernism to show how it relates to a series of key texts in contemporary life. In doing so, it demonstrates the challenge of postmodernism to classical sociological ways of representing and writing about the dramaturgical, cinematic society. The insights of this approach will appeal to students and researchers not only in sociology and cultural studies but also in philosophy, film theory and across social sciences and humanities.
PART ONE: THE POSTMODERN
Defining the Postmodern Terrain
Postmodern Social Theory Takes on the Postmodern
Baudrillard, Lyotard, and Jameson
Learning from Mills
PART TWO: LEARNING FROM CINEMA
Wild About Lynch
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
Mills and Baudrillard in America
The Eye of the Postmodern