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Cities in Post-modern Era Essay


Most commentators of post-modernism argue that there is a distinction between modern and post-modern era. From their argument, modern era started in a period that is traced to Western Europe in the 19th century till the times around 1960s and postmodern is assumed to be thirty years after the modern era.

The main difference between the two periods in history emerges from the three aspects of unity, wholeness and totality. As regarding to the modern era, individuals would want some form of totality and a unified world based on values, lifestyle and culture. In post modern era what used to drive the modern era has disappeared and there is a craving for and nostalgia about what used to happen in the modern era (Chernus, n.d., p. 1).

By the definition and understanding, “placelessness, lacks distinctiveness yet manufactured distinctive places are characteristic of post-modern landscapes” (Vogeler, 2010, p. 1). This essay will make a concerted effort to show that cities in the postmodern age have been transformed into consumption units.

This post-modern era has led to the transformation of flat landscapes for both shopping and entertainment activities and at the same time these places are being transformed into placelessness. The most conspicuous of the fancy places of the city are the television and movie shows which require geographical settings (Vogeler, 2010, p. 1).

Life in the Post Modern Times

Social and Economic Reconstructions

Social and economic reconstructions in the recent times have had profound effects on post-modern cities. There is a development of a modern urban brand in the recent times which has shaped city lifestyle and landscape; post-modern cities have been made to be centers of entertainment and pleasure. The fact that various governments have been advocating for a 24 hours economy has led to a ritual drop of young adults into city centre bars, pubs and clubs.

Furthermore, the changes that have been witnessed in the recent times have been instrumental in the understanding of the urban cultural transformation. That is, with the advent of post modernism, suburbanization of employment, depopulation and the domestication of labor have led to social decadence and dereliction.

This picture of post-modern city has been remodeled to act as places that people live, work and get entertained. The characteristic of the post-modern cities have put emphasis on the commercialization and business orientation and in this case resulting in de-materializing the economy and the lives of the people while emphasizing on the economic task for the corporately organized groups to suit leisure, retail and consumption oriented lifestyle as opposed to a production based economy.

The post-modern cities have weakened the traditional social relations and this has resulted in the variation in labor market, consumption and household dependency. The factors that support or influence consumerism in the urban centers include education level, parental income, and geographical location. Increased consumerism is evidenced by consumption patterns and the sprouting housing and entertainment needs which are typical of a post-modern city (Chatterton & Hollands, 2002, p. 96).

Civilization gave rise to the growth of cities. Cities first developed as commercial centers and others as regional centers. Post-modern cities have developed as centers of social and intellectual innovation by people of diverse cultures and ideas; they have become places of only rational money economy. The cost of post-modernism is considered as the responsibility and the similarly uncomfortable nature of personal happiness and self fulfillment.

Architecture as an Aspect of the Post-modern City

Cities have been differentiated by their lack of uniformity, excitement and pleasure; they are used as arenas for unprocessed desires but they do not invite any humanizing aspect. The modern power of consumption has affected a lot of consumer items like cars and home appliances, furthermore, space has been considered a factor in the discipline of architecture and hence it is consumed within the established social practices and social norms.

Post-modern architecture has heavily influenced the consumption culture of the post-modern cities. Production and the consumption processes in urban cities are determined by the elements of consumer culture. This is where residential places are structured with some copyrighted codes that have recently been turned to be advertisement hubs that can promise new and privileged lifestyles.

Along this vein, popular tastes are determined by trends and fashions that develop based on the lifestyles, consequently, the collection of signs and images in the post-modern era has been introduced into the society through making them consumable and more popular.

This has resulted in the illusion of the reality which is a modern feature of the post-modern consumer culture and is often like a dream and hyper-residential and only on offer based on the dictates of the market and which fails to differentiate between real and imaginary patterns of lifestyle. Also consumerism culture has been made possible by the presence of the radio, newspaper and magazines which have the tendency and the ability to change or influence opinion (Ozaslan, Akalin & Wilson, 2010, p. 2).

Development of Mass Consumption

The rise of mass consumption in the post-modern cities was as a result of advanced form of transport and advanced technology. The increased population of cities was linked to and considered with the culture and origins of consumerism and development of lifestyles that is motivated by the culture of consumption.

During the period of 1920s, there was growth of a mass mediated popular culture which was associated with marketing, advertising and consumerism. Consumerism and the culture of consumption demanded relaxation of constraints and controlling which facilitated industrialization to emerge. This culture of constraint prohibits consumption but through advertising which is disguised as plots in a movie and valorized identities that were based on consumption (Langman & Cangemi, 2003, p. 144).

New Postmodern Urban Cities

The new urban city is founded on the economy of tourism, entertainment and the sports culture and fantasy. Developments have emerged which are famed by parks, restaurants, and all palaces of consumption with modern shopping malls in one room. The economy of the post-modern cities is only concentrated on the hands of the private players and the city is very much rationalized.

The dynamics of the public and private relations as regarding to the developments is aimed at the revitalization of the cities. This process has furthermore increased commoditization of urban lifestyle; cultural difference contributes a lot to this regeneration process that is witnessed (Hanningan, 1998, p. 12). The structure of the post-modern cities is drawn for the history of sports, entertainment and commerce.

These cities have been labeled as urban entertainment destinations only designed to generate high level of consumer satisfaction, fun and the retailing of licensed merchandize; they also represent the imposition of all preexisting consumer and business brands.

The fact that most cities operate day and night reflects the commoditized market of the baby boomer and the generation x adults in pursuit of leisure, socialization and entertainment. Consequently, the post modern cities are characterized by several configurations like themed restaurants and the hard rock café, megaplex cinema and the planet Hollywood (Hanningan, 1998, p. 4).

The post-modern cities have been lately defined according to two main aspects: late capitalism and commoditification. The ancient industrial cities have been replaced by the main cities of consumption; they have been regarded as the centers of representation, deception and socialization. These cities are characterized by the religious celebrations and culinary festivals which are part of the dynamism of a city where nostalgia turns to be a marketing strategy (Karaosmanoglu, 2010, p. 1).

Palaces of Consumption

The emergence of shopping malls in the post-modern cities is an indication that they qualify to be indeed palaces of consumption. These shopping malls are considered complex and they interconnect walkways in the cities and are designed in such manner that the consumers are arm twisted to spend their money.

These shopping malls are typical of post-modern cities where people are willing to spend since it is only the prosperous economic class who move to the urban centers. The architectural setting of post-modern city is an indication of this culture of consumption, all buildings are enclosed since markets, joints and malls are constructed in such a manner that they are welcoming and comfortable. Post-modern cities have displaced all traditional streets and traditional lifestyle.

The Consumption Culture

The consumption rate that is witnessed is associated with the culture that the more it is produced the more the degree of prosperity and progress. Window shopping is considered one of the modes of pastime modern consumer culture; consumers often meet at the suburban shopping malls not only to enjoy the shopping but also the aesthetically appealing environment. The contemporary style of consumption provides an opportunity for members of different class to demonstrate their intention and utility.

Consequently, the visual merchandizing, which is a characteristic of post-modern cities and the spectacular display, is aimed at capturing the goals and the objectives of urban consumers. The consumerism phenomenon in post-modern cities is an extraordinary evolution not only for the requirements of life but also aimed at the rejuvenation of self and explicitness of social identities.

Visual merchandizing is one aspect of the post-modern cities where goods are just made open for the public. This is as opposed to the ancient times where retail commodities were displayed to just a minimum extend and shopping mall owners had little concern for the outward appearance and did not dare display merchandize for the view of the consumers (Campbell & Fainstein, 2003, p.116).

Household Income

The development of consumer culture is due to the increase in the household income. The discovery of consumer goods, in post-modern cities defines the relationship between children and the adults. Gifts to children by the parents are linked to privatization and the growth of symbolic and fantasy display of goods, the discovery also of the regime of positive reinforcement as a measure of the parents to win the love and confidence of their children.

The new behavior of consumerism has been considered an act of displaying of wealth. This behavior of the parents trying to appease their children was adopted by the working boys who adopted the culture of purchasing sweets and that of attending plays and cinemas with their petty earnings acquired from petty errands (Lindner, 2003, p. 7).

The second phenomenon regarding post-modernism is the increase in the significance of consumer shareholder. Consumption has superseded the production process. The market researchers are in recent times concentrating on the details of consumer preference and putting them into hammering the modified products and product formulas.

This marketing is most of the times carried out in the premises of lifestyle, this phenomenon is referred as demand –driven market. This culture of consumerism is evidenced by the increase in consumer territory not in terms of the volume of goods but also by the fact that consumption has become a criterion for several social activities (Koojman, n.d., p.1)


From the above discussion, pre-modernism is considered a process of human progress. Post-modern period has influenced the consumption patterns, architectural design and commercial activities in the cities. It aims at revolutionizing the consumption patterns of the urban population and altering of the post-modern lifestyle.

The architectural design of the urban centers, both that of business or commercial premises and that of residential constructions characterizes these post-modern cities. Post-modernism can also be reflected in the social interaction and the degree of commodification. Consequently, post-modern era has witnessed the resurgence of various towns and it involves the movement of majority of the population from the rural settings.

The consumerism culture in post-modern establishments is due to the changing lifestyles and the change in the production system. It is worth concluding that the effectiveness of post-modern cities has been enhanced by the innovations and the invention that characterize the modern world. Technological advances are considered a key factor that have shaped postmodernism.


Campbell, S. & Fainstein, S. 2003, Readings in planning theory, New York: Wiley-Blackwell.

Chatterton, P. & Holland, R. 2001 Theorizing urban landscape: producing, regulating and consuming youthful nightlife city spaces, urban studies, vol. 39, no 1,95-116. Web.

Chernus, I. n.d., . Web.

Hanningan, J. 1998, Fantasy city: pleasure and profit in the postmodern metropolis, New York: Routledge.

Karaosmanoglu, D. 2010, , Culture Unbound, Volume 2, 2010: 283–302. Web.

Koojman, D. n.d., . Web.

Langman, L. & Cangemi, K. 2003, The City as an Entertainment Machine, Research in Urban Policy, Volume 9, 141–176. Web.

Lindner, C. 2003, Fictions of commodity culture: from the Victorian to the postmodern, New York: Ashgate Publishing.

Ozaslan, N., Akalin, A., Wilson S. 2010, Postmodernism and consumer culture: Image-production via residential architecture in Post-1980s Turkey, African Journal of Business Management Vol. 5(7), pp. 2597-2606. Web.

Vogeler I. 2010, Critical Cultural Landscapes. Web.

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