AOBAKWE RAMOSU AND MARANG DUBE| 6/5/2010| POST MODERNISM/COLONIALISM/ STRUCTURALISM| This paper is going to focus on the post modernism, post colonialism and post structural theory. It is going to asses each theory separately and tries to reveal similarities between these theories in terms of their explanatory purposes they serve. In assessing each theory it will explicitly define it, give local interpretation, look at its origins (history), its proponents, relevance to the social work profession, the explanatory function, and change function and so on. POSTMODERNISM THEORY Postmodernism is a trend in modern culture characterized by the rejection of objective truth and global cultural native (Payne, 2005). * It can also be defined as changes in which we think about our societies and the way in which we create and understand knowledge (Hollinger, 1994). * With reference to (Macionis & Plummer, 2005) this is ways of thinking which stresses plurality of perspectives as oppose to the unified single truth. * According to our understanding postmodernism means that there are multiple truths/ perspectives in the world, and no single truth can stand that is truth is subjective.
In a nutshell postmodernism suggests that there is an alternative way of thinking about knowledge and understanding. These ideas rose partly as a reaction to modernist thinking: this is why they are called “postmodern”. It pursuits that, knowledge is always socially constructed because the choice of which knowledge is developed is not neutral. For example a scientist chooses to observe or experiment with particular aspects of the real world out of personal choice and because society at the time is interested in that particular area of knowledge (Payne, 2005).
LOCAL INTERPRETATION Postmodernism go tewa gore mongwe le mongwe o na le tsela e a labang dilo ka teng, ga gona nnete e ngwafela e. g. beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. E bile nnete e a iterelwa go sa reye gore ya yo mongwe e botlhokwa kgotsa e kwa godimo ga ya motho o mongwe. Postmodernism e ne e leka go kgala modernism e e neng e kaya fa nnete e le nngwe. HISTORY/ ORIGINS OF POSTMODERNISM Postmodernism underwent a few stages so that it could evolve. Form the Pre-modern, to modernism and lastly post modernism was born. Its history is as follows: PRE-MODERN ERA
In pre-modern societies, most people lived within the context of a single coherent cultural package. Pre-modern societies were not necessarily simple or primitive, but people in them were relatively free from “culture shock”, this is the experience of coming into contact with other people with entirely different values and beliefs. There was limited contact and interaction between societies. And the truth was in the realm of the societies they existed in. To them there was only a single perspective in the world. An example of pre-modern era was when the Batswana believed in Badimo, way before the colonialism era began.
There was a transformation to modern society which began approximately in the 17th century. Factors contributing to modernization included the reformation, the revival, and the rise of the modern. European states, the scientific revolution, French industrial revolution and the rise of mass urban societies. The transformation was due to a series of culture shocks, that is another step taken each time somebody made the unsettling discovery that the same world could contain multiple views. MODERNISM People got exposed to various cultures and there was high interaction and contact between different societies.
As there was now various ways of looking at things, philosophers tried to bring them together and construct one truth or explanation. When people discovered that the same world could contain multiple world views, conquerors frequently tried to kill off the wrong thinkers. Missionaries tried to persuade or force them to convert to the correct view of reality. Philosophers tried to create systems of understanding so profound, that they might be offered to the world as more than just another culturally based set of beliefs. The modern era has been a time of battles between religion and science, between political ideologies.
And although each of these had its own inventory of essential truths, none has been able to gain universal agreement that those truths were all that true. It doesn’t look like all were to become Christians hence postmodernism was born. An example of the modernism era would be the time when the colonialism era began, the missionaries tried to get Batswana to convert Batswana to God and do away with their traditional initiation schools and introduce “formal” education. Although some persons were converted, others still adhered to their traditional beliefs (Anderson, 1995).
POSTMODERNISM Its dominance begins early in the cold war and continues through to the present (21st century). People became familiar with it in the 1980s and 1990s. This is the age of over-exposure to otherness, where compound views in one world are allowed. For instance everyone is allowed to choose which religion to follow, and which God to worship. It is a departure from modernist approach that had previously been dominant. Postmodernism literally means after “modernism”. Every theory has people who coined it, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that they own the theory.
The main proponents of the postmodernism theory are Jean Baudrillard, Jean-francois Lyotard, Jacques Derrida (1930 – ), and Michel Foucault (1926- 1984). JEAN BAUDRILLARD He is also known as the “the high priest of postmodernism”. He is a sociologist who breaks down modernity and post modernity in an effort to explain the world as a set of models. He identifies early modernity as the period between renaissance and the industrial revolution, modernity as the period at the start of the industrial revolution and post modernity as a period of mass media (cinema & photography).
He states that we live in a world of images but images that are only simulations. He implies that many people still fail to understand this concept that we have now moved into a period where truth is entirely a product of consensus values and where science itself is just the name we attach to certain mode of explanation. JEAN-FRANCOIS LYOTARD (1984) He was born in 1929 and died in 1984. He attacks many of the modern age traditions, such as the “Grand” narrative or what he termed as the meta (master) narrative.
In contrast to the ethnographies written by anthropologists in the 1st half 20th century, Lyotard states that in all encompassing account of culture cannot be accomplished. MICHEL FOUCAL Is a French philosopher who attended to show that what most people think of as the permanent truths of human nature and society actually changes throughout the course of history ( http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Postmodernism). TENENTS OF POSTMODERNISM These are the bits and pieces that make up the theory. The tenets of postmodernism theory are social construction and relativism.
With reference to ( Hollinger, 1994) they are as detailed below: SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION Berger, peter (1966) is the main pillar or father of the social construction of reality. It also contains reunification. Social construction argues that knowledge and understanding about the world come from social interactions among people. Knowledge is therefore constructed within cultural, historical and local context through the language used to interpret social experiences because it is the only way in which those experiences can be understood.
People construct this knowledge from interaction then unconsciously distance themselves from it and this knowledge appears to be superhuman as if it was not made by people. Here the process is called reification. Reification is the apprehension of human phenomena as if they were things, that is, possibly superhuman terms. Reification is the apprehension of the products of human activity as if they were something else than human products—such as facts of nature, results of cosmic laws, or manifestations of divine will.
Reification implies that man is capable of forgetting his own authorship of the human world, and further, that the dialectic between man, the producer, and his products is lost to consciousness. The reified world is, by definition, a dehumanized world. It is experienced by man as a strange facticity, an opus alienum over which he has no control rather than as the opul proprium of his own productive activity. As soon as an objective social world is established, the possibility of reification is never far away. The objectivity of the social world means that it confronts man as something outside of himself.
The decisive question is whether he still retains the awareness that, however, objectivised, the social world was made by men and, therefore, can be remade by them. The basic “recipe” for reification of institutions is to bestow on them an ontological status independent of human activity and signification. RELATIVISM To understand knowledge you have to look at it from the perspective of the people who constructed it. For example for a mokgatla to understand why a Mongwato man thinks women with big buttocks are attractive he has to look at it from the Mongwato perspective.
Some relativists claim that humans can understand and evaluate beliefs and behaviours only in terms of their historical or cultural context. There are many forms of relativism which vary in their degree of controversy. The term often refers to truth relativism, which is the doctrine that there are no absolute truths, i. e. , that truth is always relative to some particular frame of reference, such as a language or a culture. Another widespread and contentious form is moral relativism.
One argument for relativism suggests that our own cognitive bias prevents us from observing something objectively with our own senses, and notational bias will apply to whatever we can allegedly measure without using our senses. In addition, we have a culture bias shared with other trusted observers which we cannot eliminate. A counterargument to this states that subjective certainty and concrete objects and causes form part of our everyday life, and that there is no great value in discarding such useful ideas as isomorphism, objectivity and a final truth.
Relativism is sometimes (though not always) interpreted as saying that all points of view are equally valid, in contrast to an absolutism which argues there is but one true and correct view. In fact, relativism asserts that a particular instance Y exists only in combination with or as a by-product of a particular framework or viewpoint X, and that no framework or standpoint is uniquely privileged over all others. APPLICATION OF THEORY TO SOCIAL WORK Social construction has tremendous advantage for social workers for two main reasons.
First, it emphasises that change is continuous and urges us to believe that we can achieve it through social interaction. Social work seeks to make personal and social changes through social interaction, so social construction ideas emphasise the possibility of effectiveness in social work. Also social workers often have the job of finding out about people’s personal and social histories to contribute to the work of other professions and official decision making process.
Social construction ideas suggest why this is useful as a basis for understanding an action, because we cannot understand reality without understanding historical and social contexts. It also warns that how we use our knowledge in report writing may have a strong influence, for good, or bad, of the outcome ( Payne, 2005). RESEARH Uses detailed analysis of human interaction, particularly conversation analysis, relying on video and audio taped records of interactions. These are systematically analysed to reveal patterns of communication and behaviour that may be hidden. ASSESMENT
We apply it in assessment, as social workers we usually have the work of finding out about people’s personal and social histories to contribute to the work of others and official decision making process. EXPLANATORY FUNCTION Postmodernism affirms that whatever we accept as truth and even the way we envision truths are dependent on the community in which we participate. There is no absolute truth, rather truth is relative to the community in which we participate. CHANGE FUNCTION It looks at things from the context of the environment that constructed that knowledge and reality.
The truths are equal after all they are product of men. Change technique Getting people to realise that everyone is entitled to their own truth and no one’s truth is better of than the other’s truths. Relativism can be used in dysfunctional families. For exampling a case of a mother who neglects her children, the social worker might administer good intervention if he/she tries to see things from the mother’s perspective as a way of understanding as to why she does it. Accountability Theoretical framework to practice allows those outside of your practice to understand your actions.
The postmodernism theory insists that there are multiple perspectives in the world, and everyone has their own way of doing things. Using relativism that is looking at things from other people’s perspectives to understand why they do certain things the way they do, can act as a mirror of social work to other professions. Justifications: This theory offers a rationale for a pattern of action. People behave in a certain way or see things in a certain way, or believe certain things because postmodernism implies that there are various views in one world, so people believes are justified.
Predictions With postmodernism people hold different perspectives and multiple truths hence they react to situations in their own unique way CRITIQUES OF POSTMODERNISM THEORY Roy D’Andrade in the article “moral in anthropology”, critiques postmodernism definition of objectivity and subjectivity by examining the moral nature of their models. He argues that these morals are purely subjective. He also argues that there must be a separation between moral and objective models because they are counterproductive in discovering how the world works.
Rosenav identifies seven contradictions in post modernism; 1. Its anti-theoretical position is essentially a theoretical stand 2. Postmodernism stresses the irrational, instrument of reason are freely employed to advance its perspective. 3. The postmodern prescription to focus on the marginal is itself an evaluative emphasis of precisely the sought that is their wise attacks. 4. Postmodernism stress intertextually but often treats texts in isolation. 5. By rejecting modern criteria for assessing theory, postmodernists cannot argue that there are no valid criteria for judgement. . Postmodernism criticises the inconsistency of modernism but refuses to be held to norms of consistency itself. 7. Postmodernist contradict themselves by relinquishing truth claims in their own writings. Melford Spiro: argues that postmodern anthropologists do not convincible dismiss the scientific method (http://www. as. ua. edu/ant/Faculty/murphy/436/pomo. htm). Postmodernism tends to revolve around the following things: a) The attainment of universal truth is impossible b) No ideas or truths are transcendent c) All ideas are culturally or socially constructed ) Historical facts are unimportant and irrelevant e) Ideas are true only if they benefit the oppressed. POST COLONIALISM DEFINITIONS Post-colonialism (postcolonial theory, post-colonial theory) is a specifically post-modern intellectual discourse that consists of reactions to, and analysis of, the cultural legacy of colonialism. Post colonialism comprises a set of theories found amongst philosophy, film, political science, human geography, sociology, and literature. Post colonialism refers also to the social, political, economic, and cultural practices which arise in response and resistance to colonialism.
Literally, Post colonialism refers to the period following the decline of colonialism. Post colonialism more narrowly and historically defined, is usually understood to refer to those countries which achieved formal political independence from Britain (and from other Western European powers such as Spain, France, Portugal, Holland, Belgium, and Germany) from the mid-twentieth century onwards. In our own understanding post colonialism is an era in which colonized states were regaining their traditions, culture in a form of a rejecting colonialism ( LOCAL INTERPRETATION
Ke nako e leng gore merafe ee neng e busiwa ke mafatshe a mmamosidanyana a leka go ipatela ditsela tse se ele tsa go dira dilo tse dingwe, ka mantswe a mangw e e kgathanong le puso ya mafatshe a Bophira e go neng go diriwa dilo ka tsela ya bone. Sekai e kanna tiriso ya sekgowa mo dilong ka go farologana, jaaka mo go kwaleng dibuka mme motho entse e le Motswana kgotsa moAferika. HISTORY OF POST COLONIALISM Colonialism: With reference to ( Rohmann, 1999): The term colonialism refers to the state of being a colony. It is derived from the Latin colonia: farm of settlement.
It shares a common root with the word culture through Latin colere (past. Part. Cultum: meaning to grow). Colonialism refers to the practice by which a powerful country controls another country or other countries. This is achieved by means of a military, economic, cultural oppression or domination of one country over another. Colonialism aims at controlling not only the people’s wealth (what they produced, how they produced it, and how it was distributed) in order to control the entire realm of real life’s language; but it aims also at dominating the colonized country through out imposing the dominance of their mental universe.
In other words, it is a control through culture, of how people perceived themselves and their relationship to the world: to control a people’s culture is to control its tools of self-definition in relationship to others. For colonialism this control involves tow aspects of the same process: * The destruction or deliberate undervaluing of a people’s culture. * The domination of a people’s language by that of colonizing nation. NEO-COLONIALISM This is an era to new-style colonialism, and generally means the exercise of international power through economic and commercial rather than military means.
POST COLONIALISM The critical nature of postcolonial theory entails destabilizing Western way of thinking, therefore creating space for the subaltern, or marginalized groups, to speak and produce alternatives to dominant discourse. Often, the term post colonialism is taken literally, to mean the period of time after colonialism. This however is problematic because the ‘once-colonized world’ is full of “contradictions, of half-finished processes, of confusions, of hybridity, and liminalities”. In other words, it is important to accept the lural nature of the word post colonialism, as it does not simply refer to the period after the colonial era. By some definitions, post colonialism can also be seen as a continuation of colonialism, albeit through different or new relationships concerning power and the control/production of knowledge. Due to these similarities, it is debated whether to hyphenate post colonialism as to symbolize that we have fully moved beyond colonialism ( Diesing, 1991). Post colonialism evolved having the following goals:
The ultimate goal of post-colonialism is combating the residual effects of colonialism on cultures. It is not simply concerned with salvaging past worlds, but learning how the world can move beyond this period together, towards a place of mutual respect. This section surveys the thoughts of a number of post-colonialism’s most prominent thinkers as to how to go about this. Post-colonialist thinkers recognize that many of the assumptions which underlay the “logic” of colonialism are still active forces today.
Exposing and deconstructing the racist, imperialist nature of these assumptions, they will lose their power of persuasion and coercion. Recognizing that they are not simply airy substance but have widespread material consequences for the nature and scale of global inequality makes this project all the more urgent. A key goal of post-colonial theorists is clearing space for multiple voices. This is especially true of those voices that have been previously silenced by dominant ideologies – subalterns. It is widely recognized within the discourse that this space must first be cleared within academia.
Edward Said, in his canonical book,”Orientalism” provides a clear picture of the ways social scientists, specifically Orientalists, can disregard the views of those they actually study – preferring instead to rely on the intellectual superiority of themselves and their peers. To the extent that Western scholars were aware of contemporary Orientals or Oriental movements of thought and culture, these were perceived either as silent shadows to be animated by the Orientalist, brought into reality by them or as a kind of cultural and international proletariat useful for the Orientalist’s grander interpretive activity (http://everything2. om/title/Postmodernism%252C+Poststructuralism%252C+Postcolonialism%252C+Deconstruction). PROPONENTS OF POST COLONIALISM Major contributors of post colonialism theory are as follows: Frantz Fanon: Fanon is one of the earliest writers associated with Post colonialism. He analyzed the nature of colonialism and those subjugated by it. He described colonialism as a source of violence, and offered a less bright and more violent prescription for moving beyond the colonial mindset.
He argued that previously colonized peoples would remain hybrids with a miserably schizophrenic identity unless they revolt violently against their oppressors. Fanon’s important contribution to the struggle against colonialism is his concern with history. For him, the work of the struggle against colonialism involves the claiming back of their own history by the colonized from the negative or non-existent versions of it produced by the colonisers.
He stressed the vital importance of the culture and representations of their past being central to the creation of both new positive forms of subject formation and new forms of social organisation which are necessary in the newly independent post-colonial era. He introduced also concepts of colonial space and ideas surrounding the role of the middle-class intelligentsia in these new nations; in order to develop new forms of social democracy rather than utilise existing colonial institutions and simply fill existing administrative positions with indigenous people. GAYATRI CHAKRAVORTY SPIVAK:
Spivak’s main contribution to postcolonial theory came with her specific definition of the term subaltern. She also introduced terms such as essentialism and strategic essentialism. The former term refers to the dangers of reviving subaltern voices in ways that might simplify heterogeneous groups, creating stereotyped impressions of their diverse group. Spivak, however, believes that essentialism can sometimes be used strategically by these groups to make it easier for the subaltern to be heard and understood when a clear identity can be created and accepted by the majority.
Spivak also introduced the term epistemic violence which refers to the destruction of the non-western ways of knowing and thereby the domination of western ways of understanding. She also criticized those who ignored “the cultural other” or subaltern. HOMI K. BHABHA: Bhabha introduced the idea that postcolonial world should valorise spaces of mixing, spaces where truth and authenticity move aside from ambiguity. He introduced also the concept of hybridity to capture the sense that many writers have of belonging to both cultures.
For Homi Bhabha, hybridity occurs in postcolonial societies both: as a result of conscious movement of cultural suppression, as when the colonial power invades to consolidate political and economic control, or when settler-invaders dispose indigenous peoples and force them to “assimilate” to new social patterns. It may also occur in later periods when patterns of immigration from metropolitan societies and from other imperial areas of influence continue to produce complex cultural palimpsests with the post-colonial world ( Anderson, 1995). TENENTS OF POSTCOLONIALISM With reference to Wikipedia. om retrieved 1 may 2010, Post colonialism focuses on: * Race relations and the effects of racism and combating the residual effects of colonialism on cultures. In other words, it is not simply concerned with salvaging past worlds, but it aims also at learning how they can move beyond this period. * Illegitimating the idea of establishing power through conquest. * Building a national identity. * Demonstrating the heterogeneity of colonized places. * Discussing issues of otherness, resistance, opposition, mimicry aiming at establishing values of human freedom, liberty, identity, and individuality. Celebrating their culture’s ancient yet transformed heritage, and at the same time integrating and mingling the cultural signs and practices of both the colonizing and the colonized cultures (hybridity). Postcolonial theory introduced also major key terms that are deemed to be the core of this theory which are: * Mimicry: refers to a sign of a double articulation, which appropriates the other as it visualizes power. It is also a sign of the inappropriate (mockery) to disrupt its authority. Hybridity: refers to the integration (mingling) of cultural signs and practices from the colonizing and the colonized cultures so that people adapt themselves to the necessities and opportunities of more or less oppressive or invasive cultural impositions. * The Third Space: refers to the non-synchronous temporality of global and national cultures that opens up a cultural space – a third space or in betweeness space- where the negotiation of differences creates a tension peculiar to the borderline existences. * Alterity: refers to the lack of identification with some part of one’s personality or one’s community.
It also refers to the concept of otherness and differences. * Eurocentric: refers to the action of placing emphasis on European (western) concerns, culture and values at the expense of those of other cultures. It’s an instance of Ethnocentrism, perhaps especially relevant because of its alignment with current and past real power structures in the world. * Imperialism: refers to the policy of extending the control or authority over foreign entities as a means of acquisition and/or maintenance of empires through direct or indirect methods. Diaspora: refers to any people or ethnic population forced or induced to leave their traditional ethnic homelands, being dispersed throughout other parts of the world, and the developments in their dispersal and culture. * Otherness: the term otherness includes doubleness , both identity and difference. It considers the values and meanings of the colonizing culture but rejects its power. * Ethnicity: refers to those aspects of social relationships and processes in which cultural difference is communicated.
It is to be understood as the articulation of internal and external networks of exchange. The development of the term ethnicity in current postcolonial theory marks a shift from earlier discussions of race. Ethnicity recognises the social cultural and religious practices which help to constitute a cultural identity and is less reductive than the more physically based concept of race. * Identity formation: Colonialism left some social and cultural changes. As a result of these changes, the dominant question after independence is: what is the new cultural identity?
APPLICATION TO SOCIAL WORK ASSESSMENT Throughout its process of addressing matters of identity, gender, race and ethnicity, Postcolonial theory encourages thought about the colonised’s creative resistance to the coloniser. This can be used in assessment to try and explain why people’s behaviour in all facets of life. REPORT WRITING Postcolonial theory introduced also some basic terms that are considered to be of a great help when analysing literary works. These key terms are as follow: * the colonizer vs. the colonized white & western superiority vs. coloured & colonial inferiority * black vs. white * slave vs. master * East vs. West SOCIAL ACTION The critical nature of postcolonial theory entails destabilizing Western way of thinking, therefore creating space for the subaltern or marginalized groups, to speak and produce alternatives to dominant discourse. Other areas where this theory can be applied are: in social policy and when devising intervention strategies. EXPLANATORY FUNCTION This theory focuses on the era were colonialism is rejected.
People are encouraged to expose their own ways of doing things. They are no longer subjected to other people’s culture. They are no longer ruled by outsiders; they have their leaders amongst them who preserve their culture. CHANGE FUNCTION It seeks to promote self reliance amongst people, that is, they don’t have to rely on other people from a different culture to dominate in their society. It also discourages discrimination and cultural minority as every society has to be understood and let to implement their own ways of doing things.
POST STRUCTURAL THEORY Post-Structuralism is an eclectic school of thought that significantly influenced literary and cultural theory in the 1970s and 1980s ( Rohmann, 1999). Post-structuralism is a modern philosophical school of thought. It grew out of, and in response to, the philosophy of structuralism, which many of the key thinkers of post-structuralism were extremely critical of. Post structuralism is one of the major driving forces in philosophy today, and is intricately connected with postmodernist thought. HISTORY Post? tructuralism, a school of thought that emerged partly from within French structuralism in the 1960s, reacting against structuralist pretensions to scientific objectivity and comprehensiveness. The term covers the philosophical deconstruction practised by Jacques Derrida and his followers, along with the later works of the critic Roland Barthes, the psychoanalytic theories of Jacques Lacan and Julia Kristeva, the historical critiques of Michel Foucault, and the cultural? political writings of Jean? Francois Lyotard and Gilles Deleuze.
These thinkers emphasized the instability of meanings and of intellectual categories (including that of the human ‘subject’), and sought to undermine any theoretical system that claimed to have universal validity, such claims being denounced as ‘totalitarian’. They set out to dissolve the fixed dual oppositions of structuralist thought, including that between language and meta language, and thus between literature and criticism. Instead they favoured a non? hierarchical plurality or ‘free play’ of meanings, stressing the indeterminacy of texts.
Although diminishing in French intellectual life by the end of the 1970s, post? structuralism’s delayed influence upon literary and cultural theory in the English? speaking world has persisted (Sarup, 1988). PROPONENTS OF POST STRUCTURALISM MICHEL FOUCALT Originally labelled a structuralist, the French philosopher and historian Michel Foucault came to be seen as the most important representative of the post-structuralist movement. He agreed that language and society were shaped by rule governed systems, but he disagreed with the structuralists on two counts.
Firstly, he did not think that there were definite underlying structures that could explain the human condition and secondly he thought that it was impossible to step outside of discourse and survey the situation objectively Foucault attempted to analyse the ‘discursive practices’ or serious speech acts that lay claim to revealing knowledge. Rather than analyse these discursive practices in terms of their truth, he analyses them in terms of their history or genesis. He claimed that he was attempting to do an ‘archaeology’ of knowledge, to show the history of truth claims.
In his latter work, he borrowed from Nietzsche the ‘genealogical’ approach and from Marx his analyses of ideology. Foucault sought to show how the development of knowledge was intertwined with the mechanisms of (political) power. Unlike Marx, Foucault had no underlying belief in a deep underlying truth or structure: there was no objective viewpoint from which one could analyse discourse or society. Foucault focused on the way that knowledge and the increase of the power of the state over the individual has developed in the modern era.
In his ‘History of Sexuality’ he argued that the rise of medical and psychiatric science has created a discourse of sexuality as deep, instinctual and mysterious. This discourse became accepted as the dominant explanation, and its assumptions began to seep into the discourse of the everyday. In this way the human subjects’s experience of their own sexuality is shaped and controlled by the discourses that purport to explain it. The search for knowledge does not simply uncover pre-existing ‘objects’; it actively shapes and creates them.
Foucault does not offer any all-embracing theory of human nature. He was critical of ‘meta-theory’: beliefs that claimed to give an exclusive objective explanation of reality. For Foucault there is no ultimate answer waiting to be uncovered. The ‘discursive practices’ of knowledge are not independent of the objects that are studied, and must be understood in their social and political context. Jacques Derrida (1930- ) developed deconstruction as a technique for uncovering the multiple interpretations of texts.
Influenced by Heidegger and Nietzsche, Derrida suggests that all text has ambiguity and because of this the possibility of a final and complete interpretation is impossible. Derrida presented a thesis on an apparent rupture in intellectual life. Derrida interpreted this event as a “decentering” of the former intellectual cosmos. Instead of progress or divergence from an identified centre, Derrida described this “event” as a kind of “play” (http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Post-structuralism) TENENTS OF POST STRUCTURALISM LANGUAGE
Levi-Strauss diagrammed everything from food taboos to kinship relations in an attempt to discover the “deep structures” within them. Meanwhile, in linguistics, Noam Chomsky talked about hardwired grammars that could give rise to all the varied languages of the world. Levi-Strauss, Chomsky, and their followers believed that the dizzying variety of human phenomena could all be reduced to certain simple axioms. Post structuralism casts doubt on the existence of these structures. Instead of diagrams and charts, poststructuralists inject chance and play and illogic into their writing.
They value illusion, imagination, and surprise over traditional ideas of chronological development or even narrative sense. This is true both of academic work, which throws out the chilly third-person analytic voice in favour of unapologetically subjective and situated writing, and of fiction, which suspends predictable elements of stories like temporal continuity and neatly resolved endings in favour of confusion and uncertainty. The best poststructuralist writing can be delirious, hallucinatory, poetic, and beautiful.
Like religious writing — with which it has a lot in common — it can come around to deep truths obliquely, by “talking around” them rather than attempting to capture them with the detached language of the scientist. Deconstruction For Derrida, language or ‘texts’ are not a natural reflection of the world. Text structures are interpretation of the world. Following Heidegger, Derrida thinks that language shapes us: texts create a clearing that we understand as reality. Derrida sees the history of western thought as based on opposition: good vs. evil mind vs. atter, man vs. woman, speech vs. writing. These oppositions are defined hierarchically: the second term is seen as a corruption of the first, the terms are not equal opposites. Derrida thought that all text contained a legacy of these assumptions, and as a result of this, these texts could be re-interpreted with an awareness of the hierarchies implicit in language. Derrida does not think that we can reach an end point of interpretation, a truth. For Derrida all text s exhibit ‘difference’: they allow multiple interpretations. Meaning is diffuse, not settled.
Textuality always gives us a surplus of possibilities, yet we cannot stand outside of textuality in an attempt to find objectivity. One consequence of deconstruction is that certainty in textual analyses becomes impossible. There may be competing interpretations, but there is no uninterpreted way one could assess the validity of these competing interpretations. Rather than basing our philosophical understanding on undeniable truths, the deconstructionist turns the settled bedrock of rationalism into the shifting sands of a multiplicity of interpretations (http://www. hilosopher. org. uk/poststru. httm). APPLICATION TO SOCIAL WORK RESEARCH Recently, post-structuralism has influenced social work research and practice by challenging universal ideas and opposing grand theory based on the assumption of underlying structures and truths. Difference between theories Post-structuralism is importantly different from postmodernism, although the two are often considered one and the same by the general subject. Although there are certain areas of overlap, thinkers from one school almost never identify themselves with the other school of thought.
Postmodernism importantly seeks to identify a contemporary state of the world, the period that is following the modernist period. Postmodernism seeks to identify a certain juncture, and to work within the new period. Post-structuralism, on the other hand, can be seen as a more explicitly critical view, aiming to deconstruct ideas of essentialism in various disciplines to allow for a more accurate discourse CONCLUSION Post colonialism critiques what it sees as the classist, Eurocentric assumptions behind scholarship.
This has given rise to several branches of what is often called “subaltern studies”, which is to say the study of the “silenced” minority voices in colonized spaces Where postmodernism critiques modernity, post structuralism critiques structuralism, which is to say a constellation of anthropological and literary theories that claim that all human behaviour obeys certain scientific laws. REFERENCE Rohmann. C, (2000), A world of ideas: A Dictionary of Important Theories, Concepts, Beliefs And Thinkers. New York, Ballantine Books.
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