Agency in the discursive condition

History and Theory 40 (4):34–58 (2001)
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Abstract

This article claims that postmodernity necessarily, and perhaps opportunely, undermines the bases upon which political democracy traditionally has rested; and that therefore some significant work must be done in order to redefine, restore, or otherwise reconfigure democratic values and institutions for a changed cultural condition. This situation presents the opportunity to explore the new options, positive openings, and discursive opportunities that postmodernity presents for political practice; for this the problem of agency provides a focal issue.The practices of postmodernity, taken together, represent substantial challenges, not just to this or that cherished habit, but to modernity itself and all its corollaries, including its inventions of objectivity, of "the individual" , and of all the related values which still underwrite so much of what we do as citizens, consumers, and professionals not to mention as more private persons, parents, and partners. Fortunately, postmodernity does not demolish all our most cherished beliefs, values, and practices; but it does require recognition of how those beliefs, values, and practices actually function and of what alternatives they suppress

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