n Communicare : Journal for Communication Sciences in Southern Africa - Postmodernity, globalisation, communication and identity : research article

Volume 26, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0259-0069



This article sets out to explore what it is to live in the postmodern age as an 'individual', that is, as someone with a distinct sense of self. Consideration is given both to the possibility that individuals today, in the context of globalisation, may not have such a distinct sense of personal 'identity', and also to what it is to have an identity. These questions are explored in relation to the so-called postmodern subject - or the subject in the age of globalisation, the age of hypercommunication, or of 'informatization' - which one may assume to be constituted very differently from the 'modern' subject of the 19th-century, or even more radically differently from premodern subjects. One could say that what Hardt and Negri regard as distinctive for postmodernity - informatisation, made possible by advanced communications technology - is inseparable from the 'identity' of postmodern individuals. Moreover, Derrida's insistence that the communications technology characteristic of an era embodies a change in subjectivity (and hence, in identity), points to a significant clue regarding the identity of postmodern subjects. The aim of the present article is therefore to explore what all of these divergent considerations mean with regard to the issue of identity in the contemporary world - whether one has reason to believe that identity has evaporated in the flux of postmodern life, or if some of the theoretical perspectives invoked here enable one to affirm the continued legitimacy of talking about identity today.

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