Postmodernism and Social Inquiry

Postmodernism and Social Inquiry

Postmodernism and Social Inquiry

Postmodernism and Social Inquiry

Synopsis

This introduction to postmodernism offers a comprehensive examination of postmodern theory and its application to the study of society. It surveys the work of theorists and explores the potential and limits of postmodern analysis across key areas of development, including deconstruction, Semiotics, The New Ethnography And Feminist Theory. This Guide Should Be suitable as an undergraduate text for social and cultural theory courses and should appeal to students of social research methods.

Excerpt

Contemporary intellectual life reflects a sense of ferment if not crisis. “In attempting to uncover the deepest strata of Western culture,” Michel Foucault wrote at one point, “I am restoring to our silent and apparently immobile soil its rifts, its instability, its flows; and it is the same ground that is once more stirring under our feet.” These comments seem to stand in stark contrast with the triumphant sway of Western liberal democracy in our time. in the eyes of many, the dismantling of competing (especially communist) regimes signals the complete vindication of modern Western culture, with its central pillars of individualism, scientific rationality, and technological progress. Yet, despite triumphant rhetoric, a Hegelian dialectic or “cunning of reason” seems to be once again at work. Underneath the shining armor a certain hollowness is spreading: a suspicion that individual identity is slipping, that rationalism ignores and perhaps undermines its premises, and that progress does not necessarily yield happiness or even viable conditions of human life. This suspicion or uneasiness, in my view, is at the heart of contemporary discussions of “postmodernism”—no matter how this term is precisely defined or how its implications are concretely articulated.

Up to now, literature dealing with postmodernism—or with the tension between modernity and postmodernity—has tended to be confined to the domains of philosophy, literature, and the arts. Only rarely have attempts been made to explore the relevance of these issues for the social sciences. in this respect, the present volume constitutes a pioneering effort that competently bridges the gap between philosophy and the humanities, on the one hand, and sociological theory and research methods, on the other. David Dickens and Andrea Fontana are to be congratulated for having assembled a group of essays that not only pursue and deepen philosophical or theoretical concerns but document their repercussions—both their fruitfulness and their limitations—in the actual practice of sociological and anthropological inquiry. the book should be welcomed both by devotees and

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