Postmodern Politics and Marxism

By Gundogan, Ercan | CEU Political Science Journal, February 2010 | Go to article overview

Postmodern Politics and Marxism


Gundogan, Ercan, CEU Political Science Journal


Ercan Gundogan

The American University Girne-Cyprus

1. Structuralism, Poststructuralism and Postmodernism

The most decisive role in the development of structuralism, poststructuralism and finally postmodernism has been played by new French intellectual studies after the Second World War. After the war, France was "still largely agricultural and suffered from an antiquated economy and polity". In the post war period, the country witnessed a rapid modernization process. This was accompanied with interesting developments of social and philosophical theories. Finally, the social and political uprising in 1968 gave a "dramatic sense of rupture" symbolizing old French revolutionary tradition. The turbulent events behind 1968 were student movements and workers strikes. New theoretical studies focused upon "mass culture", "the consumer society", technology, and urbanization. The new social relations were theorized first by the conception of "postindustrial society", which was borrowed from the USA. Mass culture and consumer society were analyzed through Anglo-Saxon theories1. Up to that time, dominant theories in France had been marxism, existentialism and phenomenology. However, semiotics developed by Ferdinand de Saussure in early twentieth century attracted intellectual circles and was first applied to anthropology by Levi-Strauss. In marxism, Althusser theorized a structural marxism while Lacan studied for a structuralist theory of psychoanalysis of Freud. The terminology was composed of "codes", "rules", "common system", "parts and whole". Structures are ruled by "unconscious codes and rules". Social phenomena were defined by linguistic and structural terms such as rules, codes and system. In theoretical circles, there emerged a "structuralist revolution" (2).

In structuralist marxism of Althusser, the main aim was to "eliminate the concept of the subject", which was only a "linguistic construct". "[T]he subject itself was constituted by its relation within language, so that subjectivity was seen as a social and linguistic construct". Nonetheless, structural analysis tries to reveal "objectivity, coherence, rigour, and truth, and claimed scientific status for its theories" (3).

Poststructuralism attacked these scientific premises of structuralism. Structuralism reproduced the "humanist notion of an unchanging human nature" and all universal structures of humanism. Unlike structuralism, poststructuralism accepted a "historical view which sees different forms of consciousness, identities, signification, and so on as historically produced and therefore varying in different historical periods" (4).

A common point between structuralism and poststructuralism is the rejection of the concept of "the autonomous subject". The latter emphasizes the productivity of language dismissing "closed structures of oppositions" (5) and "the unstability of meaning". Thus, it implies a "break with conventional representational schemes of meaning". Meaning is "produced not in a stable, referential relation between subject and object, but only within the infinite, intertextual play of signifiers" (6). Poststructuralism seems to suggest an extreme form of relativism rejecting all kinds of claims on objective and universal knowledge, any ontological division between structure and agency, as well as cause and effect or determinant and determined.

As for the development of postmodern theory, we should remember the results of the 1968 events. This last social uprising in Western Europe takes attention to the concrete politics. First of all, student movements produced a debate on the production of knowledge and bureaucratic characteristics of universities. This attention would be theorized by Michael Foucault as an existence between power and knowledge (7). Theoretical and practical politics was common for many intellectuals, who would be poststructuralist later. Moreover, general interest was on everyday life, subjectivity, differences and social marginality. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Postmodern Politics and Marxism
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.