Today I had lunch with Professor Stewart Hoover from the School of Journalism and Mass Communication and we talked about my proposed research project. We ate at the fantastic Boulder Dushanbe Tea House, a gift to the people of Boulder from the people of Tajikistan.
I've also been reading "Culture and Everyday Life" by Andy Bennett, and looking over the dissertation of my host, Dr. Curtis Coats, on new age spiritual tourism. What is coming out of that melting pot for me?
It has long been said that postmoderns live in a kind of 'spiritual supermarket' where they pick and choose their beliefs. Philip Hughes from the Christian Research Association has frequently mentioned Anthony Giddens' view that our identities today are self-constructed, not given.
Andy Bennett's review of cultural and social theory presents a brief and detailed review of developments in this field. Contrary to the view that postmodernism is an 'anything goes' situation where people randomly or blithely choose their beliefs, Giddens and others speak of 'reflexive modernity'. Some who believe that modernity is still upon would claim that the influences of capitalism and consumerism, and the values underpinning them, are sufficiently strong that we cannot claim that society is in a new state. Moreover, the cultural changes taking place are not uniform by any means.
However, the combined characteristics often called 'postmodernism' (distrust of science/rationality and 'progress', pluralism, etc, etc) do not necessarily result in people being dumb citizens fattening themselves on popular culture at the whim of multinational corporations.