Contributions of postmodernism to the Social Sciences.

These are methodologically, theoretically and institutionally broad and diverse in their character. They aim at understanding and analyzing society (Good, 2006.584). the broad ambitions of social sciences lead to the need to cover a wide ground and this range from economy, law, politics, religion, beliefs and language and how they are manifested in day to day lives of people, both mentally and socially.

In this paper, I bring the argument that postmodernism has a great effect on social sciences. This sometimes has benefits sometimes neutral or even nefarious. I will look at theoretical discussions, practical implications and their examples. I first look at the contributions to social science by postmodernism, criticisms, and later on the conclusion.

Various strands of postmodernism try to assume that the purpose of the social science is to put ideas in practice, ask new questions, shape policies and move towards more knowledge of ignorance (Weick, 2003:467). It can also be seen as opposing the enlightenment idea. Planned intervention got from scientific know-how can improve social life.

Contributions by postmodernism to social science.

Some of the examples are lack of encouragement of planning in public administration, inspiring protection of less enlightened culture (Rosenau, 1991: back page).

The implications of social sciences are;

  • Methodological pluralism.

Pluralism gives chance to unreconciled views to exist together, enrich and exchange each other.

It has been accepted that within social sciences one can deviate from the normal way of things happening. As the substitutes of the scientific method, affirmatives kook into personal experience, feelings, empathy, intuition, imagination, subjective judgment and various forms of play and creativity (Todorov, 1984).


This realized that there was no method right to do science. However, Richard Rorty looked at this more deeply and opposed the belief that knowledge reflects the world. Anti-foundationalism rejects other ideas in favour of other ideas of knowledge. Rorty argues that we should use our concepts as instruments to reach our goals and not hooking onto the world the way it is (

1.3Preoccupation with the reflexivity

Self-reflexivity would lead to consciousness of the process of the creation of knowledge. There is awareness of data collection and limitation of the methodological systems. The idea underlies postmodernist affinity to study anthropology (Ryan, 1996:995).

1.4Language and rhetoric

Rhetoric is the study as well as the use of spoken, visual and written language.

It suggests that language is dialogic, constitutive, connected to mental activity and is integrated with cultural, economic and social activities. Postmodernism is characterized by a lot of attention to language as well as rhetoric.

The writers are said to have unnecessarily convoluted styles that are inaccessible. A rhetoric example is an artificial eloquence as opposed to rigorous, serious, and scientific discourse. The art of presenting ideas that act with symbols as well as the construction of definition in the open text as no intention to impose hegemonic view (Rosenau,1991: xiv)

1.5 Standpoint theory.

It enables one to understand that standpoints or views may differ in situations of the same persons.

It identifies the benefits obtained from cross-fertilization in any point of divergent view. It accepts that women are sometimes in better positions to get knowledge due to where they are placed in the society. Other theorists identify it as greater knowledge form that is linked to the oppressed category, marginal or subordinated (Beart,2006:171).

  • Social constructivism

It believes that knowledge is not obtained through our thoughts or senses. It is built from these and also other inputs. It can also be explained that knowledge is adapted to organize our experiences other than using it to look at external reality.

It is criticized though that not all models are good in doing their specific tasks.

  • Actor-network theory(Latour, 1993)

Latour tries to do away with the shortfalls of the modernism as well as postmodernism.

Modernism believes that nature was not man-made and therefore was observed, while society was made by people. Postmodernism separated language and middle ground from nature and society by saying its autonomous. Latour shows that the separation is artificial. This is because technological reality is real like nature and society (Latour, 1991. p6).

  • The technology that is socially constructed

This looks at how artifacts are interpreted and given meaning. That is, how they are constructed and then they become actors(Jamison, 2006).

  • Socialmateriality

This brings up the idea of combining social and material so as to challenge the parting of work technology and organization. Research shows that work, technology and organization are supposed to be separate while social and technical should not be separated (Orlikowski, 2008:1).

  1. Discussion

Social science requires to be simplified in modern times (Rosenau, 1991:136).In this paper, we have dwelt much on the contributions of postmodernism. There are however criticisms that need to be looked at.

Postmodernism having its ancestry in humanities, its application in social sciences is based on assumptions that little difference is found (Rosenau, 1991:167).  In humanities, speculations are interesting but in social sciences, more analytical and grounding conclusions on evidence are necessary.

Opposers of postmodernism doubt the fact that one could use knowledge like power (

Social science rejects Kuhnian science model as successive paradigms and calls the end of paradigms. However, half of life if the paradigms appear shorter as the affairs of humans become complex.

Critics say that postmodernism removes differences between the truth and false and this paves way for nihilism. Since there is no truth or false, all the beliefs are said to be equal (Scholes 1989:56). It has made an undeniable impact on social sciences b marking a shift from narratives of truth, the predictability that defines modernist agenda 9Chia, 2003:130).




Postmodernists ask for the interdisciplinary work. They do it themselves and do not learn about other subjects.

It is not enough to only reject the criteria for question judging but one should also provide alternatives.

They also mock inconsistency of modernism and they are also not consistent.

  1. Conclusion.

It cannot be denied that postmodernism has a great impact on the social sciences. this impact has however been polarizing. It pleases, frightens and leaves some people not touched. The impact and benefits depend on the way one defines it as well as the perspective of the person benefiting. There is a slight predisposition on this camp. This makes me conclude that postmodernism should not be understood as a nihilistic or cynical tendency in thoughts but should be taken as a complex and subtle attempt at working on the metaphysical base of the knowledge obtained in the modern world (Chia, 2003;114).



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