Modernity-Postmodernity in Puerto Rico: Consumer Culture and Paradigmatic Crisis

Dr Laura L. Ortiz-Negron
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The postmodern condition highlights the exacerbation and discontinuities of modernity's projection. This can best be illustrated by consumer culture, which dislocates the imaginary of progress, culture and politics in a glocal (global and local) juncture. Consumer culture reveals the presence of a new semiotic and abstract economy that produces and intensifies consumption as a process of hegemonic and differentiated subjectivitization. Globalization involves a weakening of the boundaries between economy, culture and politics, as time and space are increasingly compressed. To varying extents different actors and social sectors differentially negotiate this process with varied and oftentimes unexpected outcomes.

The processes of modernization in Puerto Rico, in keeping with the logic of Fordism and Post-Fordism, have made consumption the engine of Puerto Rican society. Notwithstanding this centrality, the socioeconomic profile of the country is incongruent with ever-increasing high levels of consumption. This apparently illogical situation points to a blindness to the continuities and discontinuities that mark the modern-postmodern era. Among the symptoms of this obstructed vision include the fetishizing of a past that never was, and combining this nostalgia with a contradictory moralizing discourse which demonizes consumption, among other symptoms. I shall explore these processes as they have evolved in the quintessential glocalized location of Puerto Rico, while engaging the paradigmatic crisis of traditional social science terms such as function, class and necessity, among others.

Keywords: Modernity, Postmodernity, Consumer Culture, Puerto Rico
Stream: Sociology and Geography, Anthropology, Archaeology, Cultural Studies and Humanities
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Modernity-Postmodernity in Puerto Rico

Dr Laura L. Ortiz-Negron

Researcher, Social Science Research Center, University of Puerto Rico
San Juan, Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico

Laura L. Ortiz-Negrón is currently Researcher at the Social Science Research Center at the Rio Piedras Campus of the University of Puerto Rico. She obtained her doctorate in Sociology at The Graduate School and University Center - City University of New York. Her intellectual background and research include the sociology of consumption, cultural studies and the sociology of work. She has taught courses in classical and contemporary sociological theory, as well as interdisciplinary courses at the University of Puerto Rico. Her book, Al filo de la navaja: Los márgenes en Puerto Rico (1999) examines the subject of post-work culture and those sectors excluded from the world of work identified as the margins. In addition, she has also published articles on migration, modern culture and work, and consumer culture and the mall. Her most recent project is the video Arcadas de las estaciones 20-21: Visiones sobre las centros centros comerciales en Puerto Rico (2005). Currently she is writing a book on consumer culture in Puerto Rico, a work that casts a trenchant look at Puerto Rican society.

Ref: I06P0070