Dissertation > Culture, science,education, sports > Information and knowledge dissemination > Information and communication theory > Communication Theory

Construction of Identity in the Postmodern Context

Author LiuYan
Tutor ShaoPeiRen
School Zhejiang University
Course Communication
Keywords Postmodern discursive context Communication technology Identity
CLC G206
Type PhD thesis
Year 2007
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In the discursive situation of postmodernism, the changing nature of the media environment has complicated the problematics of identity. With the withering influence of the traditional sources of identity such as nation, tribe, religion, and class, identity in the contemporary era has become increasingly fragmented and unstable. As a product of social construction, identity in postmodern society has become increasingly multifaceted, flexible, fluid, and unstable. This dissertation, taking as the setting the changing media and social contexts of the postmodern identity and the starting point the changing identification of the subjects in a philosophical sense, examines the phenomenon of multifaceted individual/group identities in postmodern society, and explores the roles of new communication technology, especially electronic media, in constructing postmodern identities across the macro, meso, and micro levels of analysis.The dissertation discusses how in a postmodern discursive context, people utilizes media technologies as a means to engage in micro-level constructions of identity in their everyday life. In postmodern societies, while distancing from the macro politics of state and party as bases for a durable identity, people turn to micro politics and identity of everyday life. Communication technologies shape the new identity of "trans-geographical social communities." Such a new identity is transient, grounded in differences across culture, gender, nationality, and religion. Mass media become resources and means for those with such differences to construct their identity, realize their rights, build their role models, and select their lifestyles.This dissertation analyzes the phenomenon of weakening, withering and changing of the traditional identity resources such as uniformed national language, religion, and culture, as a result of the introduction of the electronic media. The audiovisual entertainment in local dialects is an integral part of the global media entertainment, a manifestation of local languages and cultural hegemony. It undermines the identity based on national unity and identification. The emergence of the "electronic church" leads to crisis of modern organized religion; while changing the ways in which religion is articulated and experienced, it is also altering the social integration function of religion. In addition, global culture also induces the interruption to certain cultures and crisis of group identity based on such cultures. Mass media is an active participant in such processes. Cultural globalization directly affects the maintenance of the national and cultural identity.This dissertation is inspired by the thesis of dynamic interactions between communication technologies and social development. It rejects the deterministic view of the social impact of media technologies. Rather, it treats media technologies as an important factor in social processes.

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