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?
Both Modernists and Postmodernists agree theoretically that there has been a fundamental split between past societies and the societies of today. They believe that this split has caused major changes in the patterns of social relations, economic flows, and moral regulations, thus it has created a new type of society. Diagreements on how to classify this new type of society and these new changes, however, are what consitute the major differences in their theories about society. The modernists, such as Marx, Durkheim, and Weber, tend towards the idea of functionalism. To them, the idea of functionalism accounts for the changes we have seen, such as the rise of rationalism. The modernists think that all types of institutions function in their ability to hold society together through different modes of solidarity. The modernists, then, classify modern societies as "part of the ever-changing 'modern' era (411)," which the founders of sociological inquiry spent their lives studying. The Postmodernists, however, find this classification troubling; therefore, they posit that these new societies should be classified as a new "postmodern" era. Although the postmodern movement is in itself largely unclassifiable, most sociologists associate the trend with the appearance of the theories of Jean-Francois Lyotard and Richard Rorty. Postmodernism is essentially an aesthetic movement that is meant to replace functionalist thought and, especially, the modernist aesthetic, which is a proponent of functionalist thought. In this sense, postmodernism arose as a response to modernism, which was viewed as being inadequate as an inspiration for artist expression and lacking in aesthetic value. The modernist aesthetic, in promoting functionalism, focuses on totalities as the main aesthetic end while it complains about the fragmentary nature of modern life. In contrast, the postmodernist movement celebrates, or at the very least, accepts the fragmentary nature of modern life, while critiquing the aestheticization of totalities. Postmodernism has its theoretical roots in the French poststructuralist movement that sought to decenter the subject, as opposed to the structural project of integration. Thus, they are very critical of the capability of reason and understanding, which had earlier been the cornerstone of all social projects. In opposition to the modernist focus on objective science as the source of knowledge, the postmodernists embed science in the broader linguistic discourse around the production of knowledge. In this way, the postmodernists represent a linguistic turn in the social sciences. As a linguistic movement, postmodernism challenges the overriding narratives of modernism, which had earlier acted as unquestionable and universal truths. They focus, then, on more localized narratives about social life, which "take into account the contingent, provisional, and unstable nature of the social world (413)." Furthermore because the Marxist narrative no longer fits with the recent changes in capitalism, capitalist critique needs to be re-theorized. Thus postmodernity can be viewed as "a vantage point for the rewriting of modernity (414)." In this way, postmodernity is a specific phase of modernity and not a replacement for it. In addition, postmodernism is even skeptical of our claim to having ever been modern. Finally, there really is no way to finally classify the current era as modern nor postmodern. It is not readily possible to describe a truly postmodern society nor is a modern society a fully real concept. Instead, the postmodernist dialogue can be seen as a critique of the project of modernity and a new way to account for modernity.