What are the main differences between High modernity and Postmodernity?

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lprono eNotes educator| Certified Educator

(High) Modernism and Postmodernism are difficult terms to define and separate rigidly into time and ideological frameworks. Yet, there seems to be a certain degree of consensus to define modernity as the search for unity within the distinctiveness, complexity and dynamism (cultural critic Marshall Berman uses the image of the maelstrom to define modernity) that characterized the break with traditional ways of life at the end of the nineteenth century and in the first half of the twentieth.  On the contrary, postmodernism rejoices in the fragmentation inherent in our contemporary societies and expresses skepticism about the possibility of recovering a lost unity or what Lyotard termed as "grand narratives", dominant ideas and ideologies that in the past were passed off as truth. Postmodernism celebrates the technique of pasticheas far as cultural styles and philosophical attitudes towards reality are concerned. It highlights diversity and fragmentation as a way to subvert accepted norms rather than the modernist quest for linear and chronological progress.