Postmodernism in sociology. On unobtrusive consequences of a recent sociological fashion

Shchelkin A.G.

Dr. Sci. (Philos.), Prof., leading researcher of the Sociological Institute of FCTAS RAS, St. Petersburg, Russia

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Shchelkin A.G. Postmodernism in sociology. On unobtrusive consequences of a recent sociological fashion. Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniya [Sociological Studies]. 2017. No 2. P. 120-130


The phenomenon of postmodernism, as manifested in current sociology, is considered in terms of ambiguous consequences of this postmodern paradigm we are seeing today. Firstly, the rejection of the principle of universalism in favor of purely relativistic point of view (all social phenomena are considered sui generis) has dramatically changed epistemological apparatus of sociology. The notion, as fixing the essence and nature of this or that phenomenon, in the post-modern sociology ceases to have heuristic value. This sociology operates with case studies, narratives, stories and other instruments to underline uniqueness and idiographic character of a social phenomenon. Such sociology refuses to evaluate these phenomena in terms of “normal /deviation”. “The deviation from normality” is considered under the sign of the fashion category of “other”. Therefore, post-modern concept is indifferent to the “essences” and “norms” of social things. Secondly, postmodernism distorted sociology in ontological aspect. It deontologizes social reality, that is, turns it into an infinite and arbitrary set of virtual objects-simulacra. Although in today’s society there is a lot of quasi-objects, the world is still full of real and authenticable things that are not removed, but rather close to its essence, and even equal it. In general, it turns out that the practical value of postmodern sociology becomes problematic and morally the latter is on the verge of ethic nihilism.

post-modernism; universalism; relativism; deontologization of social reality; intervention / non-intervention in the “sovereign deviation”


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