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?
In both modernism and postmodernism, sociologists agree that, " that something has fundamentally changed in the patterns of social relations, economic flows, and moral regulation in modern societies"(411). They differ in when they decide that one era has ended and another has started. Postmodernism, "questions the adequacy of the functional as an inspiration of artistic expression"(412). Postmodernists simply criticize the basis of modernism and where postmodernism has separated from modernism. They suggest that much has changed over time and that we are now in a completely new era because there is an increasing amount of information flowing into the economic sphere, and what used to be original is now a simulation and a system of signs and symbols (413). Modernists, however, would not say that we are currently in a new state of social understanding. Modernists focus on how society functions as a whole and what makes up a fluid, functioning system. Modernism would also reject forms of chaos as flaw rather than just an imperfection; they would suggest that these flaws act negatively against the proper function of society. Postmodernism embraces these imperfections and flaws.
Our textbook suggests that postmodernism and modernism are very closely related and that postmodernism is a part of modernity. This being said, both points of view are just different ways of looking at how society today functions. There is no defined right or wrong yet, but, "perhaps most importantly, is has brought into the scholarly and popular discourse, for instance, the "problem" of difference."(415).
Post modernism is "an aesthetic movement in the cultural sphere" that is a "rejection of modernism"(411). One main characteristic of postmodernism is that postmodernism questions the idea that functional creations can be inspiration for the arts. Another characteristic is that postmodernists, "think in terms of fragmentation, ephemerality, and discontinuity"(412). Postmodernism focuses on chaos in a more positive light, suggesting that chaos is a natural and necessary part of social construct; all social constructions have imperfection. Another key characteristic is the decentralization of the subject-centered ideology. According to postmodernists, there is no one universal truth. There is a thick woven fabric of truths and understanding that differs between individuals. For these reasons, they reject the ideas held in the enlightenment. The enlightenment suggested that there was one universal truth for all people and that an individual can come to completely understand their surroundings, but postmodernists believe that an individual cannot truly understand everything around them. Postmodernists believe that there is no common understanding that people can come to, and that each individual interprets the same situation differently. It is said that, "instead, postmodernism favors more small-scale, local narratives that take into account the contingent, provisional, and unstable nature of the social world"(413). This emphasizes how postmodernism focuses on individual experience, social circle and spheres rather than a collective understanding of experiences.