Jameson, Fredric(1934-) US Marxist literary critic, cultural theorist and major interlocutor with POSTMODERNISM, whose influences include Frye and McLuhan. Jameson's argument is that what appears as postmodernity is part of ‘the cultural logic of late capitalism’ and it is this that brings about cultural fragmentation. Jameson has defended the Marxist project against post-321 modern writers such as LYOTARD and BAUDRILLARD whose work proclaims the end of the meta-narrative and the disintegration of macropolitical discourse. Whereas these thinkers’ version of postmodernism threatens to collapse truth claims and introduce relativism, Jameson's theory of the postmodern as ‘the cultural logic of late capitalism’ attempts to save political knowledge by arguing that it is not enough to simply relate signs to other signs. In contrast to Baudrillard's theory of hyper-reality and Lyotard's idea of language games, Jameson suggests we must go beyond the idea of the independent matrix of signification and ground postmodernism in the politico-economic sphere. In The Political Unconscious (1981) Jameson elaborates on this theory by arguing that a close reading of postmodern textuality can excavate the sign's political motivation. His next major work, the New Left Review article ‘Postmodernism, or, the Cultural Logic of Late-Capitalism’ (1984), extended this thesis by suggesting that the project aimed at uncovering the bias of the sign could be related to the concept of ‘cognitive mapping’ as a method for situating the time/space relativism promoted by postmodern discourse. Later turned into a book-length study Postmodernism, or, the Cultural Logic of Late-Capitalism (1991) argued that cognitive mapping should be seen as a critical response to the curious depthless nature of postmodern culture.
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000