Modernity and its Discontents

This module introduces and explores the writings of a number of key twentieth-century social and cultural theorists, and radical thinkers offering perceptive and provocative critiques of some of the many ills of modern western capitalist society, such as alienation, reification and domination; environmental exploitation, pollution and the destruction of nature; media supersaturation, cultural commodification and ideological manipulation; technocracy, instrumentalism and ‘scientism’; violence, genocide and the perpetual threat of nuclear extermination.

This module provides an opportunity for you to engage with perspectives in the social sciences that interrogate our common and comfortable assumptions about the supposedly benign and beneficent character of contemporary capitalism, scientific development, technological innovation, and affluent consumer lifestyles. In so doing, the very concepts of historical enlightenment, progress and civilisation are called into question.

This module considers not only how to interpret the world in various ways, but also how to change it.