Re: I: what is postmodernism? (fwd)

I think this is rather stating the obvious

>One last point: we should not think of "postmodernism" as an exclusive
>possession of the "left." The term (in the sense that we are discussing it
>here) was first introduced by historians like Toynbee and sociologists like
>Daniel Bell. They *describe* the postmodern condition, but *deplore* it.

No sociological/political/theoretical concept is the exclusive possession
of either left, right, or the 'third way' - it can be appropriated by all
and sundry. That's why there is always considerable debate about every
concept in the social sciences, a discipline known for the elusive nature
of its concepts. It is possible, but not necessarily desirable, to
construct whole courses around 'What is democracy', or 'liberty' 'class'
'feminisim' ....just insert your own concept.

Just like any other concept, the complexities of 'postmodern' do not lend
themselves to easy definition.This should not stop attempts to do so but
they will always be contested. It is interesting to note however that those
most likely to highlight definitional problems are those most likely to
conceive of it as a threat - Callinicos, Honneth, etc.

I think the problem lies with the fact that the 'postmodern' calls into
question,the ability to offer 'real' analysis - thus problematising rather
too many foundations than is comfortable.

I actually think the idea surrounding postmodernism is actually quite
straightforward - Lyotard's(1989) 'The general idea is a trivial one. One
can note a sort of decay in the confidence placed by the last two centuries
in the idea of progress', seems to be echoing C.Wright Mills (1959) 'The
Modern age is being succeeded by a postmodern period...our basic
definitions of society and self are being overtaken by new
realities...ideas of freedom and reason seem ambiguous in both the new
capitalist and communist societies of our time'


Rachel Russell Tel: +44 141-331-3197
Sociology Division Fax: +44 141-331+3439
Dept of Social Sciences Email: R.Russell@xxxxxxxxxx
Glasgow Caledonian University
Cowcaddens Road
Glasgow G4 0BA

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