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Postmodern Social Theory

J. Michael Ryan

Subject Philosophy
Sociological and Social Theory » Postmodern Theory

People Baudrillard, Jean

Key-Topics postmodernism

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405124331.2007.x


Postmodern social theory is a field which is both difficult to define and rejects being defined. It is, in fact, a field that struggles against definitions, against norms, against protocols. Instead, it seeks to deconstruct, decenter, and delegitimize scientific claims to universal truths. With these characteristics in mind, it is easy to understand why defining such a field would be a difficult, if not counterproductive, task. Various authors have sought to overcome this difficulty by relying on common characteristics of various postmodern theories, others have defined the field by those who work in it, and still others – particularly those who work in the field itself – have avoided any attempts to define it at all. Regardless of which of these approaches one takes, however, there is no denying that something called postmodern social theory was at one time a flourishing presence in sociology (and elsewhere). There is also little denying that that time has passed and that now postmodern social theory is little more than a memory of a past epoch in social thought. Despite this “death” of postmodern theory, however, its short life has had profound effects on the way social theorists do theory, and will, no doubt, continue to have such an effect for a long time to come. It should be noted that this entry does not deal with the postmodern as a broad-reaching academic and/or cultural ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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