1. According to introduction to part IX, what is the fundamental difference between modernist and postmodernist theories? What are the main characteristics associated with postmodernism?
According to Jean-Francois Lyotard, "Postmodernism has actually been beneficial in helping us reinterpret our understanding of the modern." (411) Obviously, a change over time has caused fundamental changes to our social structure. These changes have manifested in the realms of economics, technological capabilities, racial inequality, gender inequality etc. According to the cliché, time heals all wounds. Though I disagree with the ability of a society to reach the radical egalitarianism value that sociology aspires to attain, we have seen a great divide between the classes throughout these periods. It is my contention that only through utilitarianism that libertarianism and egalitarianism can meet.
If we analyze the modern sociological thought, we can categorize a large majority of their work as macrosociology, or studying society as a whole. The attempt of the classical theorists Marx, Weber, and Durkheim highlights an emphasis on each individuals attempt to describe an overriding theory to describe society as a whole. In other words this type of sociological thought was looking at the big picture; they wanted to know what makes society work. As sociology developed into the postmodern era the general perspective changed.
The new frame for which the scholars used focused on macro sociology. They looked at society through having a better understanding of the individual. One might look at the field of social psychology to describe micro sociology. As the postmodern sociological thought developed, a great emphasis was placed on issues such as "racial inequality" and "gender inequality." These issues are subsets of the grand picture. The postmodern thought tends to look at an issue such as racial inequality and apply it to the broader sociological theories that were developed in the modern thought in order to understand why it's happening and to develop their own theoretical claims. As it is, there is no doubt that these two frames or disciplines for studying sociological thought are very similar and greatly related. In order for one to develop their own social theory it is imperative to understand the connections between the two disciplines. They work hand in hand as it is important to understand the particular issues while being able to apply them to the grand scheme of things.
The post-modernist thought has questioned the stability of our definitions of race and gender. It challenges the "white normative ideas." Though I disagree with their framing of gender, race is an interesting issue. Are the colors of skin that people have different? Yes, they are. But our shaping of racism and inequality stems back from the time that we brought people into slavery. This historical event among others such as the civil war and the civil rights movement has undoubtedly shaped our perceptions of race. The postmodern sociologists would question the how concrete race is. They suggest that it is socially constructed. I think that everyone has different skin tones and heritages, but in terms of racial indifference that was created by selfishness and hatred. Inequality can not be cured with out love; this is the key ingredient missing in both Post modern and modern sociology, in my opinion. Yes, they are very similar studies with slightly different frames but each discipline is flawed and neither study will solve the problems.