Post Modernism What Is Post-Modernism  Term Paper
- Length: 12 pages
- Sources: 12
- Subject: Sociology
- Type: Term Paper
- Paper: #23652445
Excerpt from Term Paper :
This comes to only point out the fact that the role of postmodernism is essential because it offers a different perspective through which humans can understand the events taking place around them and can interpret them to provide meanings that would be useful in their own development and in the development of the social being.
One of the important aspects of postmodernism is that unlike other theories that have been advocated throughout the decades, this approach takes into account the human perception of things. The development of this trend was essential because the human individual needed a framework through which it could accept, acknowledge and deal with the changes taking place around it. More precisely, at the end of the 19th century, the issue of industrialization together with the huge developments that were taking place at the level of the political changes, economic burst, and cultural revolutions set the human individual as a mere spectator to its surroundings. Harold Chorny in "City of dreams. Social Theory and the Urban Experience" considers the way in which industrialism played a part in the de-humanization of the human being. More precisely, he points out that "of all the changes that nineteenth century capitalism introduced into the world of Western society the rise of modern industrial metropolis involved the most profound alterations in the daily experiences of human beings"
. Therefore, there was a need for an approach that would eventually respond to this changes as a result of "a quest for a solution to the alienation they felt in the face of the conditions they encountered"
The approach taken by Chorney reflects in fact one of the most important conditions for establishing a new line of thought. At the end of the nineteenth century the advancement of technology, be in at the industrial level or in terms of agriculture, have forever changed the way in which the human being was in the center of social being and economic advancement. The Industrial revolution not only provided an impressive means of development but also placed on the second spot the capacity of the human being to act as main actor on the economic and social scene. This change determined several other changes that came once the economic boost of the nineteenth century confirmed. The development of cities and the rise of the megalopolis structure reflected in the way in which humans acted. The change was dramatic particularly because it provided a new environment for socialization, which would be considerably less personal than that prior to the nineteenth century. People would be carried away by mechanization and in the end by an increased limitation of personal contact and influence. This in turn determines a sense of alienation that is growingly common in today's society.
Postmodernism from this point-of-view brought back the role of the human individual in the society and provided a new meaning to it. The postmodernist thought considers right the difference of opinion and the expression of individual personality. The role postmodernism offers to the capacity to interpret (as postmodernism mostly relies on the individual capacity to interpret) is essential to drive society forward and create an environment that is not static or flat. The contributions of every individual through personal interpretation provide essence to the social structure.
Postmodernism has provided human kind with the "excuse" for stating one's mind. More precisely, the approach of postmodernism offers legitimacy for human contribution to all walks of life by legitimizing the exchange of knowledge through interpretation. "We may thus expect a thorough exteriorization of knowledge with respect to the "knower," at whatever point he or she may occupy in the knowledge process. The old principle that the acquisition of knowledge is indissociable from the training (Bildung) of minds, or even of individuals, is becoming obsolete and will become ever more so. The relationships of the suppliers and users of knowledge to the knowledge they supply and use is now tending, and will increasingly tend, to assume the form already taken by the relationship of commodity producers and consumers to the commodities they produce and consume -- that is, the form of value. Knowledge is and will be produced in order to be sold, it is and will be consumed in order to be valorized in a new production: in both cases, the goal is exchange."
Postmodernist approaches have provided the background for these types of exchanges.
Postmodernism is extremely relevant for the political arena largely because postmodernism does not provide any rules that must be followed by the society. The interpretation postmodernism provides reflects strictly to the contributions the society and the human being can make to its surroundings. Therefore, as mentioned above, the contributions and the mass of information is volatile whereas its quality largely depends on the centralized mechanisms of education, culture at the level of the respective society. Hence, the political life is as volatile as its basis, the constituencies. This is one of the reasons for which postmodernist thought refuse to take into account the state as the essence of power and legitimacy. "What is new in all of this is that the old poles of attraction represented by nation-states, parties, professions, institutions, and historical traditions are losing their attraction. And it does not look as though they wilt be replaced, at least not on their former scale, the Trilateral Commission is not a popular pole of attraction. "Identifying" with the great names, the heroes of contemporary history, is becoming more and more difficult. Dedicating oneself to "catching up with Germany," the life goal the French president [Giscard d'Estaing at the time this book was published in France] seems to be offering his countrymen, is not exactly exciting. But then again, it is not exactly a life goal. It depends on each individual's industriousness. Each individual is referred to himself. And each of us knows that our self does not amount to much."
Although it was written in 1979, the above quote is still valid to this day. Indeed, without the clear references made to Germany or the political arena at that point, it still takes into account the way in which postmodernist thought reflects on the political scheme. A relevant example in this sense may be the actual situation in Iraq and the United States intervention and presence in the Middle East region. The issue of imposing democracy is of huge importance especially in countries that fail to respect the basic human rights aspects and chose to treat its citizens in an inhuman manner. From this point-of-view, the intervention of the Coalition was, more or less, legitimized. However, years later, voices against this intervention were more vocal than before. They reflected more individualized beliefs that in the end focus on the story of each and every soldier that died in Iraq or Afghanistan. More precisely, the fact that the discussion over the withdrawal of troops from the Middle East also took into account the personal stories of the soldiers that died while fighting to provide democracy to other countries points out that the traditional beliefs over the poles of power, the state as the sovereign and source of legitimacy in the international scene and most importantly the belief that democracy is reason enough for going to war have changed and the personal beliefs and intervention may prevail. This is not to say that the tragedies of the soldiers that died in confrontations were the reason for withdrawal but they weighted significantly in the decision.
Another example of postmodernist approach is related to the increasing role of militant NGOs. It reflects in part from the previous point where the postmodernist thought sets in question the role of the state as the main pole of power. In addition to this, the role of global NGOs such as Green Peace or World Wild Fund that militate for a precise cause is all the more important to point out that reality can be in fact a matter of perception. Green Peace started off as an initiative of few people that set off "to think big -- and then go one step further. For Hunter (one of the founders), the limits of the practical or the probable didn't count: Nothing was ever impossible"
. The new trend of activism can also be seen as a change in perspective. Activism represents a means through which individuals come together for a cause, with shared ideals and values, that would otherwise be difficult to consider under the structure and rigid nature of the state. Therefore, this belief and this type of action are representative for a postmodernist approach that sets the individual on the first place.
Part three: Optimistic or pessimistic
The perspective postmodernism provides to the world around cannot be clearly identified a positive or negative because it largely depends on the point of focus.
In terms of cultural and economic perspectives, the role of postmodernism…