Postmodernism and Urban Life Style in Finland

Liisa Knuuti


Postmodernism and Urban Life Style in Finland
Liisa Knuuti, Centre for Urban and Regional Studies, Technical Research Centre of Finland (TKK).

Many people have heard of Postmodernism but do not have a very clear idea of what it means. Yet after more than twenty years, the Post-Modern Movement has achieved a revolution in western culture which has affected films, music, dance, religion, politics, fashion and almost every activity of contemporary life.

Charles Jencks defines postmodernism as a movement starting roughly in 1970 as a set of departures from modernism. Key definers are philosophical and stylistic pluralism and a dialectical or critical reaction to preexisting ideology. The modern person wanted to break down all taboos, to deny myths and undress the artificial.

Then quantum physics gave us a world which is a matter of probability, paradox and irony.

After new insights came the consciousness of pure relationalism. The postmodern consciousness realises that despite breaking down taboos and undressing the artificial, it is possible to find the real ego, the true individual. Endlessly a new surface emerges.

The postmodern consciousness knows this and will deliberately dress itself in the artificial.

Is the postmodern consciousness possible? This article includes the story of Leena 31, a currency dealer from Helsinki. The story tells about her values and life style. Can one talk of postmodern consciousness in Leena's case? In some ways, yes. Powerful hedonism and the need to live for herself, having fun and consumerism are parts of the postmodern life style. As values and the life style changed, the business world caught the ideas faster. But people also need something other than consumerism.

It is important to take city space and urban scenery into consideration in planning. The postmodern way of planning tries to include the space, experience and history of our environment.

When surveying the structure of a community prior to making plans, one must examine the city's historical, material and physical structure, what people talk about, their life styles, homes, experiences and conditions for action and, finally, the power structure. To planners the only way to follow the process of development is to increase their knowledge of the everyday life of the residents of the city.

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