Reluctant Modernity / Edition 1

Paperback (Print)
Buy New
Buy New from
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $19.99
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 30%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (7) from $19.99   
  • New (5) from $19.99   
  • Used (2) from $64.99   


In this book, Aleš Debeljak offers a refreshing alternative to postmodernists such as Baudrillard, who declare the death of art conceived as yet another source of rootless, circulating fictions. Inspired by the melancholy critical theory of Adorno and Benjamin, and drawing on Weber, Debeljak shows that with the dawning of modernity, art was made autonomous. Art production was effectively emancipated from the exigencies of everyday life and its guiding ideal of purposive rationality. The Renaissance brought on the first stage in a long, gradual withdrawal of art from the hitherto dominant mythological, religious, and aristocratic legitimization. Yet it was not until the 18th century that art assumed the separate status of a commodity to be bought and sold. However, art paid a price for its autonomy; through commodification art production ultimately become an extension of capitalist logic and control. The deterioration of bourgeois liberal individualism into the narcissism of mass society accompanied the decomposition of art into simplified mass art and commercialized kitsch. Maintaining its formal autonomy (museums, galleries, etc.), its content became the universal object of indirect corporate exploitation. Today postmodern art, argues Debeljak, is subjected to infinite reproducibility, total integration into mass society, and political resignation—no longer representing an alternative reality. The postmodern institution of art thus cannot be simply cured of modern structures and assumptions, but is, instead, fated to a continuous and painful relationship with modernity.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Bryan S. Turner
A major contribution to the critical analysis of the autonomy of art in contemporary capitalism. Ales Debeljak, following in the tradition of Adorno and Habermas, provides a penetrating and comprehensive inquiry in the contradictory character of art in modern society.
Chris Rojek
At last, a book which punctures the bolder claims of postmodernism, while retaining a shrewd perspective on the limitations of Modernist theories. Debeljak's book is an insightful addition to the literature. Required reading for serious social theorists.
Argues that the modern multinational corporation has taken the place of earlier elites in the patronage of art. Like in the past, a superordinate class decides (through sponsorship) what art is suitable for the masses, and thus mutes art's liberating possibilities. Also argues that the postmodern remedy to the situation is mired in an other-directedness that seeks to be politically correct and inoffensive and has itself fallen prey to crass commercialization and corporate control. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780847685837
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group Inc
  • Publication date: 6/28/1998
  • Series: Postmodern Social Futures Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 236
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.54 (d)

Meet the Author

Aleš Debeljak, a leading Central European poet and cultural critic, teaches cultural studies at the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia. His books in English include Anxious Moments (1994) and Twilight of the Idols: Recollections of a Lost Yugoslavia (1994).

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Foreword Chapter 2 Preface Chapter 3 Acknowledgements Chapter 4 Introduction Chapter 5 Framing the Logic of Modernity Chapter 6 The Bourgeois Public Sphere in Modernity Chapter 7 The Institution of Art in Modernity Chapter 8 The Dissolution of the Bourgeois Public Sphere Chapter 9 The Institution of Art in Postmodernity Chapter 10 References Chapter 11 Index

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)