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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,

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