Title: Idee postmodernizmu w geografii społeczno-ekonomicznej = Postmodernist ideas in human geography


Maik, Wiesław

Date issued/created:


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Przegląd Geograficzny T. 88 z. 4 (2016)



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24 cm


At the turn of the 20th and 21st centuries, the debate surrounding postmodernism transformed the intellectual “scene” of many scientific disciplines, also exerting an impact on human geography, especially in the Anglo-Saxon countries. If the links between geography and postmodernism are to be presented in a wider context, the three questions in need of an answer are as follows. What is postmodernism? Can we talk about postmodern geography? What impulses have postmodernism ideas brought to contemporary human geography? The first part is devoted to the presentation of postmodernism as a broad intellectual movement at the turn of the century. Evoking a number of conflicting reactions over the years, it has its enthusiastic supporters and fierce opponents. The controversies surrounding the concept and assumptions of postmodernism arise in two ways. Firstly, the term has three meanings: (1) as the phase of development of culture following the period of modernism, (2) as the name of the post-modern cultural-civilizational era following modernism, (3) as a kind of postmodern condition, which is formed by the social, economic and mental characteristics of the West’s post-industrial civilisation. Secondly, postmodern thought emerged from a number of sources and was shaped by representatives of different fields of science, culture and politics. As a result, postmodernism encompasses various positions and options, and its programme is pluralistic. The postmodern debate appeared in human geography in the mid-1980s. The trend was portrayed by some researchers as a manifestation of a new postmodern geography, while others wrote about a postmodern turning point in geography. Postmodernism in geography boasts its supporters and fierce adversaries. On the one hand, it has been greeted by renowned geographers as a basis for the reconstruction of the geography concept, and as a source of many inspiring innovations; while on the other it has encountered considerable resistance on the part of many geographers who have regarded its ideas as a threat to the discipline’s identity. In fact, the formulation of the thesis regarding the identity of postmodern geography is questionable, and it seems better to talk about the aforesaid postmodern turn that the discipline has taken. The latter term includes two interacting motifs: (1) criticism of the current status and assumptions of human geography and (2) a postulate that modernist thought and methodology in geography be broken with. The postmodern turning point in geography has introduced many “fertilising” impulses and innovations, such as: (1) the revitalisation of the debate regarding the discipline’s tradition and mission, (2) a postulate to the effect that human geography should be approximated to the mainstream of contemporary sociology and social theory, (3) stimulation of a discussion regarding the language of science and its representation in “harsh reality”. Postmodernist ideas are in turn deemed to denote most strongly the areas of: (1) the study of contemporary urbanism, (2) the conceptualisation of space and the relationship between space, time and society, (3) the so-called new cultural geography that grew up on the basis of post-structuralism and postmodernism. Any cumulative assessment of the impact of postmodernism on geography is made difficult for at least two reasons: firstly, the controversies surrounding the consequences of the postmodern turn taken by contemporary geography have not ceased, and secondly, postmodernism has not created a positive programme for how our discipline in any postmodern phase might be pursued and “cultivated”.


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oai:rcin.org.pl:61603 ; 0033-2143 (print) ; 2300-8466 (on-line) ; 10.7163/PrzG.2016.4.1


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Institute of Geography and Spatial Organization of the Polish Academy of Sciences

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Central Library of Geography and Environmental Protection. Institute of Geography and Spatial Organization PAS

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Programme Innovative Economy, 2010-2014, Priority Axis 2. R&D infrastructure ; European Union. European Regional Development Fund



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