According to introduction to Part IX, what is the fundamental difference between modernist and postmodernist theories? What are the main characteristics associated with postmodernism?
In the introduction, there are many differences between modernist and postmodernist theories. First, modernist are different from postmodernist because modernist try to use big grand theories to explain how everything works. Secondly, postmodern theorists have changed the way we perceive culture, and lastly the manner in which they choose how to determine what is truth.
In the past modern theorist tried to explain society with using grand theories. This has been a turning point for postmodern theorist such as Foucault and P. Collins. " Such grand theories, like those associated with Marx and Freud, are taken to have at their center a category (or a set of categories) that is assumed to be universal, thereby masking any internal differentiation" (413). This is true for modern theorist but not postmodern theorist. P. Collins challenged this in her work "Black Feminist Epistemology" when she critiqued E. Smith's "The Conceptual Practice of Power" standpoint theory. Collins basically said that Smith tried to put all women in the same category but this unacceptable because different realms connect each woman's life, which Collins called intersectuality. Foucault on the other hand said that we create power, discipline, and authority by making the social norms for ourselves and we individually monitor our behavior to avoid being discipline. This is different from Durkheim because Durkheim said these social facts exist outside of us while Foucault has said that we consciously think about them until the rules become engrained in our life.
Second, postmodernist have acknowledge culture as being a significant part of our lives. Fanon in his work has also said there is a difference in the way blacks and whites interact with each other. This is important because Marx only accounted for poor and rich being different from each other. Fanon has said this is important for blacks to be recognized and considered human. In modern theory white educated males mainly dominated it and now postmodern theory has a more diverse background. Also in the introduction it says the use of symbols are important for theorist of postmodern because they say these are different for each culture.
Lastly postmodern theorist and modern theorist arrive at truth differently. Postmodernist believe language helps arrive at truth. Modernism privileges science, above all, as the source of objective knowledge and truth. Poststructalism (and postmodernism) makes the claim instead language is central in the production of knowledge" (412). This is one big difference between modern theorist and post modern theorist.