Postmodernism in political science


Postmodernism in political science

Postmodernism in political science refers to the use of postmodern ideas in political science.Many situations which are considered political in nature can not be adequately discussed in traditional realist and liberal approaches to political science. Brief examples include the situation of a “draft-age youth whose identity is claimed in national narratives of ‘national security’ and the universalizing narratives of the ‘rights of man,’” of “the woman whose very womb is claimed by the irresolvable contesting narratives of ‘church,’ ‘paternity,’ ‘economy,’ and ‘liberal polity.’ In these cases, there are no fixed categories, stable sets of values, or common sense meanings to be understood in their scholarly exploration. Liberal approaches do not aid in understanding these types of situations; there is no individual or social or institutional structure whose values can impose a meaning or interpretive narrative.

In these margins, people resist realist concepts of power which is repressive, in order to maintain a claim on their own identity. What makes this resistance significant is that among the aspects of power resisted is that which forces individuals to take a single identity or to be subject to a particular interpretation. Meaning and interpretation in these types of situations is always uncertain; arbitrary in fact. The power in effect here is not that of oppression, but that of the cultural and social implications around them, which creates the framework within which they see themselves, which creates the boundaries of their possible courses of action.

Postmodern political scientists, such as Richard Ashley, claim that in these marginal sites it is impossible to construct a coherent narrative, or story, about what is really taking place without including contesting and contradicting narratives, and still have a “true” story from the perspective of a “sovereign subject,” who can dictate the values pertinent to the “meaning” of the situation. In fact, it is possible here to deconstruct the idea of meaning. Ashley attempts to reveal the ambiguity of texts, especially Western texts, how the texts themselves can be seen as "sites of conflict" within a given culture or worldview. By regarding them in this way, deconstructive readings attempt to uncover evidence of ancient cultural biases, conflicts, lies, tyrannies, and power structures, such as the tensions and ambiguity between peace and war, lord and subject, male and female, which serve as further examples of Derrida's binary oppositions in which the first element is privileged, or considered prior to and more authentic, in relation to the second. Examples of postmodern political scientists include post-colonial writers such as Frantz Fanon, feminist writers such as Cynthia Enloe, and postpositive theorists such as Ashley and James Der Derian.


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • political science — political scientist. a social science dealing with political institutions and with the principles and conduct of government. [1770 80] * * * Academic discipline concerned with the empirical study of government and politics. Political scientists… …   Universalium

  • Postmodernism — This article is about the philosophy. For the condition or state of being, see Postmodernity. Postmodernism preceded by Modernism Postmodernity …   Wikipedia

  • Science wars — The Science wars were a series of intellectual battles in the 1990s between postmodernists and realists (though neither party would likely use the terms to describe themselves) about the nature of scientific theories. In brief, the postmodernists …   Wikipedia

  • Political philosophy — Part of the Politics series Politics List of political topics Politics by country …   Wikipedia

  • Political correctness — Politically incorrect redirects here. For other uses, see Politically incorrect (disambiguation). Political correctness (adjectivally, politically correct; both forms commonly abbreviated to PC) is a term which denotes language, ideas, policies,… …   Wikipedia

  • Science and religion in the Czech lands and Slovakia — Historical backdrop The field of “science and religion” (for lack of a better term; to denote that it is a single notion, we shall use the abbreviation “S R”) has a (relatively) long history in the Czech lands and Slovakia. The census of 1910… …   Wikipedia

  • postmodernism — In the culture generally, postmodernism is associated with a playful acceptance of surfaces and superficial style, self conscious quotation and parody (although these are also found in modernist literature, such as that of James Joyce), and a… …   Philosophy dictionary

  • Manifestations of Postmodernism — Postmodernism preceded by Modernism Postmodernity Hypermodernity Hypermodernism (art) Post anarchism Posthumanism …   Wikipedia

  • Post-postmodernism — is a term applied to a wide ranging set of developments in critical theory, philosophy, architecture, art, literature, and culture which are emerging from and reacting to postmodernism. Contents 1 Periodization 2 Definitions …   Wikipedia

  • History of science — History of science …   Wikipedia


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.