McAfee SECURE sites help keep you safe from identity theft, credit card fraud, spyware, spam, viruses and online scams

In what way does the rise of Globalisation and Postmodernism present a problem for Contemporary Sociological Theory?

Social theory has been going through severe transformations for years with shifts in its focus as societies progressed. The classical theorists concentrated mainly on the traditions, culture and the economic structuring of the society. Social theory has experienced a transition from the classical theories to the modern theories and now to the post modern theories that conceptualised the social reality in different ways. The classical theorists like Marx, Weber, Durkheim, and Adam Smith mainly focused on the structure of the society and the social, economic and political factors attributed to it. Modern thinkers like Parsons, Merton, etc focused on the systematic and the organisational approach to the society through the study of social relationships and institutions. Post modernism emerged as a radical approach against the modernist tradition and pervaded every sphere of social reality with its variety of explanations and approaches.

Post modernists aggressively criticised the traditional culture and theory in various ways and erected their foundation on the crux of the modernism. Modernists confronted this criticism either by just ignoring it or by coming to terms with it through appropriate discourses and theoretical approaches. Post modernism was criticised either as a passing fad and the idiosyncrasy of the intellectuals in search of a new discourse and a source of cultural capital (Britton, 1988) or as another ideology aiming to devalue the modernist values (Habermas 1981). Despite all the criticism, post modernism continued to grow in the last two decades with wide variety of explanations and paradigms and seeped in to many academic disciplines.

Thus though the new discourses of post modernity posit their features as a new conception, most of the theorists build their arguments on the pre-existing edifice of the modernity. Most of the post modernists like Jameson built their post modern arguments based on Marxist (modern) traditions. Similarly the critical theorists like Habermas criticised the very ideological nature of the post modern theory.   Best & Kellner (1991, p32) identify trajectory of the development of the post modern discourse through five stages viz., (1) the post modernists characterised and criticised modernity and its discourses (2) postulated a break with modernity and modern theory (3) produced alternative post modern theories, positions or perspectives (4) created or failed to create a theory of post modernity and provided or failed to develop  a new post modern politics sufficient to the supposed post modern situation. Among these stages, some post modernists gave a thorough explanation to the social processes and reality built as a critique of modernity. But some others failed to produce a radically different theoretical explanation as their observations were built on the pre existing edifice of modernity.  With these inherent contradictions in the very theoretical foundations, post modernity remains a contentious discourse for social theory.

Globalisation as a theoretical discourse faces the same predicament with respect to its conception. Economic restructuring and integration of world systems have been continuing since the Enlightenment era. They have attained the connotation of globalisation in the recent decades after the technological boom. Added to that the growth in the information technologies have resulted in compression of the global world in terms of space and time. This compression resulted in unifying global societies resulting in global culture. As this new process of globalisation is built on the pre-existing theoretical edifice of modernity, it follows the same path as its predecessor in its conceptual growth and continues the similar dialectics thus posing a challenge to contemporary social theory.

Related Links
To Top