The Phenomenon of Culture in Postmodern Discourse...

Cultural Phenomenon in Postmodern Discourse

The methodology of postmodernism in ethnology is sometimes defined as poststructural, although it will be more correctly defined as anti-structural, because it is characterized by a different conception of the essential characteristics of culture.

Actually, structuralism proceeds from the fact that culture is a holistic, structured phenomenon, its parts (elements) occupy a strictly defined place, and the interconnection of parts is unambiguous. Culture structuralism likens the text, its phenomenon - some signs/symbols, which in the text are the letters and the words composed of them. The researcher's task is to interpret these symbols, in other words, "read the text" culture.

Postmodernists reject the idea of ​​the alignment/interdependence of cultural elements. The world is chaotic, and the postmodern concept is completely different - the culture has a fluid, fragmentary character, without a clearly defined hierarchy of constituent parts, with a variable configuration of elements, representing "polyphony", and if in the vocals it is a certain set of voices, then with respect to culture - elements , which do not depend on each other and often contradict each other. The interconnection of individual elements of culture is in constant dynamics, each time it is carried out in a different way. The analogy with the jazz orchestra as an explanation of this situation is noteworthy - there is a certain basis for the musical work, but it is always played with improvisation, and the music is different each time (for a structuralist understanding of culture, in this case, analogy with the symphony orchestra is appropriate - a set of sounds is stable and each occupies its place strictly).

Subject and object of research

In the sphere of social sciences and humanities, in the opinion of postmodernists, it is necessary to abandon the previously characteristic tendency to draw a clear boundary between the subject (student) and the object (studied) of scientific research, in particular, when studying the phenomenon of culture. Traditionally it was believed that the scientist should be a detached observer who objectively describes another culture in non-contradictory positions, in no way interfering in the life of the studied society. In fact, assert postmodernists, the description itself becomes an element of culture, an event at the junction of cultures, it affects both the subject and the object of research, changing them to some extent, due to a number of reasons.

First, the methodology of willy-nilly research is based on the consideration of alien culture through the prism of certain positions of the scientist-scientific, ideological, political, aesthetic and others, as well as prejudices and prejudices of his own culture. One of these positions is the idea of ​​the interconnectedness of cultural phenomena, and if the researcher declares it in his description, then he imposes his own vision on culture, and thus, not so much describes how much "constructs" her.

Secondly, the researcher, in order to please the bearers of the studied culture, on the one hand, can distort its appearance, "embellishing" her, and on the other - the culture itself, or rather its carriers, will inevitably be "adjusted" under the position of the researcher, which will force them to follow the strategy of self-construction.

Finally, thirdly, the created description of culture will also influence its representatives, and if it is profitable for economic, political or other purposes, they will transform it in the direction necessary for this.

Proceeding from such premises, the postmodernists accept the conclusion that the objective description of culture that was required before can not be. Culture is a system of symbols and meanings, the researchers' task is to interpret them, "and since these interpretations can not be single and unambiguous, then ethnographic characteristics in themselves are intellectual organizing constructions" (VA Tishkov).

However, work on the study of foreign cultures has an enduring value - through them they study their own culture: "When Malinowski writes about the inhabitants of the Trobriand Islands, he writes about himself when Evans-Pritchard writes about the Nueres, he writes about himself. Any other approach turns the characters of ethnographic treatises into crockery dolls (E. Leach). Scientific research thus becomes a dialogue of cultures, resulting in the deconstruction of common sense its culture, revealing its prejudices.

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