- Paperback: 388 pages
- Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell (October 1991)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0631162941
- ISBN-13: 978-0631162940
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 8.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 13 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #122,894 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Condition of Postmodernity: An Enquiry into the Origins of Cultural Change
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The Condition of Postmodernity is David Harvey's seminal history of our most equivocal of eras. What does postmodernism mean? Where did it come from? Harvey, a professor of geography and a key mover behind extending the scope and influence of the discipline of geography itself, does a thorough job here delineating the passage through to postmodernity and the economic, social, and political changes that underscored and accompanied it. As he clearly states, the rise in postmodernist cultural forms is related to a new intensity in what Harvey terms "time-space compression," but this new intensity is a qualitative rather than quantitative change in social organization, and it does not point to an era beyond capitalism as "the basic rules of capitalistic accumulation" remain unchanged. Unlike Fredric Jameson (whose equally rewarding Postmodernism stands as the twin pillar to Harvey's critique), who explicitly relies on Ernest Mandel's periodization of late capitalism, Harvey eschews a narrowly economic focus, the limits and contradictions of production that have led to the rise in the service sector, and takes a more multidisciplinary approach to his history. As comfortable discussing Manet as he is labor markets, Harvey is an excellent writer, and The Condition of Postmodernity is an exceptionally informative and enjoyable read. --Mark Thwaite, Amazon.co.uk
"Devastating. The most brilliant study of post-modernity to date.David Harvey cuts beneath the theoretical debates aboutpostmodernist culture to reveal the social and economic basis ofthis apparently free-floating phenomenon. After reading this book,those who fashionably scorn the idea of a 'total' critique hadbetter think again." Terry Eagleton
"Few people have penetrated the heartland of contemporarycultural theory and critique as explosively or insightfully asDavid Harvey." Edward Soja
"David Harvey's book is probably the best yet written on thelink between ... economic and cultural transformations."Financial Times
"David Harvey's engrossing book is probably the most readable,ambitious, and intelligent work on postmodernism yet published."Voice Literary Supplement
"In Harvey's skilful hands various strands of contemporary life,normally held far apart by specialized scholarly interests, cometogether again and are shown to fit with each other ... amarvellous, enjoyable and mind-opening book." Times LiterarySupplement
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Harvey went on to compare flexible accumulation with Fordism. According to Harvey, the 1973 oil crisis, coupled with rising competition from matured alternative centers in East Asia and Western Europe and decline in US power signaled the end of rigid Fordism (pp.141-142 and p.145). Flexible accumulation emerged as short-term, flexible and segregated employment strategies of labor (pp.150-151) and production strategies as well as new industries based on information and in-time production (p.154), coupled by short-term, fast-changing and diverse consumer aesthetics (p.156). De-regulation from the state prompted more flexible organization of production (p.155) and freer movement of capital across the globe (160-161). Competitive individualism and entrepreneurship replaced collective aesthetics and progression (p.171). Most importantly, innovation in financial tools and expansion of global financial market provided new spatial fix of moving capital around the globe to chase the profit and new temporal fix of reaping short-term profit in disregard of long-term debt accumulation and risks (pp.161-163, and p.186).
Harvey’s theory makes a dialogue with Giovanni Arrighi’s longue duree cycles of capitalism. Harvey complemented Arrighi’s financialization perspective with the story on the production and labor side. Temporal and spatial fixes are also the two primary perspectives of capitalist transition shared by Harvey and Arrighi. On the other hand, while Arrighi saw repetitiveness of financial expansion (with compressed temporal and spatial cycles) based on longer historical cycles, Harvey highlighted financial innovation and expansion as a novel spatial and temporal fix technique. He also paid much more attention to consumption pattern and aesthetics as part of social contract of particular accumulation models. There is no need to ask the simple question of who is right or wrong, but the convergence and contrast between Arrighi and Harvey does lead us to contemplate the mechanism of “paradigm shift” in capitalist social systems and whether post-modernity is a mere extension of modern capitalist system or a significant rupture from it.