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Contemporary Sociologies: Understanding Theories through Dialogues and Debates

Contemporary Sociologies: Understanding Theories through Dialogues and


We have encountered a lot of sociologies within the past decades, from Hegelian
Marxism, Structuralism, Ethnomethodology, to Postmodernity, etc. These movements could be
seen as developments for sociology for it has reshaped the epistemological stances, the problems
being discussed and also the prescriptions (if there are any) that the movements elicit. It is
beneficial for us to understand these ‘contemporary’ movements within sociology for us not just
to use them but also understand how they work and their flaws as social theories and sociological
theories. Before we discuss the ‘contemporary’ sociologies that rose within the past decades, it is
better for us to raise the question of ‘provincializing’ theories as Curato (2013) have exemplified
in her article; we should view these theories as ‘provinces of knowledge’ and not universal
theories as she exclaimed. Even though the purpose of this paper is to understand these
contemporary theories, the notion to provincializing social/sociological theories should be
exclaimed for the readers to be cautious, as they have understood the theories that we would
discuss, in using these theories as we know the limits of such theories in the sense of their

In this paper, for us to understand a certain theory, we should understand the debates
within the tenets of these theories, for us to understand how some concepts are viewed.
Normally, scholars would write about debates between two theories, which would also be done
within this paper, but it would be adequate for us to understand such theories knowing the
debates within it. This does not just help us not be ‘biased’ within a certain view of the theory,
but it would help us also to identify the different views of a certain theory. It also helps in being
‘reflexive’ about our knowledge of a certain theory—though I am not suggesting for us to be
objective in viewing these theories1. We should approach these ideas with a different kind of
‘understanding’ that surpasses trivial knowledge but reshapes our ‘provinces of knowledge’ and
transforms our ‘understanding’ into a new level of general view. It might sound pluralistic,
though such methodology would emancipate us from labeling ourselves in a particular
conceptual framework, which should not be.

In this paper, we would discuss three comparisons of theories (Ethnomethodology and

Poststructuralism, Hegelian Marxism and Western Marxism, Emancipatory Sociology and
Postmodernism) and in the last section of this paper we would focus with two different
epistemological stances, these are the Qualitative and Quantitative debate. We would be cautious
not prescribing into any theory or epistemology though personal insights might be given, the
The tendency of viewing theories objectively somehow reduces them into ‘trivial’ knowledge rather than active
sociological nodes in understanding our society

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reader should be cautious that these personal insights do not give a certain theory a special
privilege to other theories that creates ‘hierarchies of theories’ which would be a huge fall for
any theorist or sociologist. Lastly, the reader should be cautious that a theory would have a lot of
facets—that is why we would not discuss every aspect of a certain theory in detail. The theories
that would be discussed later are chosen not out of its privileges, but it is chosen because they
provide a lot of insights and debates within the movement they are within.

Reshaping the Conception of Ethnomethodology and Post-Structuralism

Ethnomethodology: The Debate of Woolgar and Barnes

Ethnomethodology is a study of the methods of individuals to make sense or meaning of

the world around them (Cuff et al. 2015). It started from Alfred Schutz, though as Cuff (et al.
2015) said that Schutz is influenced by Edmund Husserl who was a philosopher of
phenomenology. This theory was formulated within a milieu of positivistic view of things, and
somehow this theory became a polemic against positivism for they have argued that positivism
only a ‘finite province of meaning’ (Schutz 1962). Through this, positivism was challenged, and
somehow a relativistic thinking came out. But we should be aware that this theory is not anti-
science, and we should be careful that we might turn to an ethnomethodology which is fed by
polemical desires (Woolgar 1981b). Barnes (1981) suggested that “…ethnomethodology
assiduously avoid the idiom of science” that Woolgar (1981b) have discounted. Woolgar (1981b)
have said that the “…sweeping characterization of ethnomethodology in terms of anti-scientific
overtones is entirely misleading.” We could argue from this debate that the theory’s ontological
stance is subjective.

It is very blatant that ethnomethodology puts an emphasis to the agency of the individual.
For example, Woolgar (1981a) have suggested that interest influences knowledge production of
an individual, arguably we could see how flexible knowledge production could be not putting a
causal relationship between interest and knowledge production, which could be a tendency of
positivism. There is no clear emphasis on structures within ethnomethodology, though as we
have tackled earlier that interest influences knowledge production which could also be a sign of
structure within an agent ridden theory.

As suggested by Barnes (1981) that accounts are subjected not just representations of
reality which could suggest that accounts become an objective entity that represents reality and
shapes the actions of how a person should react to that certain reality. As Woolgar (1981b) have
shown that Alfred Schutz has also formulated this though he subjected these notions as not
appealing or in his terms ‘…unpalatable.’ So Barnes (1981) is trying to suggest that accounts are

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Contemporary Sociologies: Understanding Theories through Dialogues and Debates

constitutive of the ‘real world’ (also mentioned in Woolgar 1981b). Though as Woolgar (1981b)
and Garfinkel (1952) have suggested that accounts are meditative and reflective rather than
constitutive as Barnes (1981) have suggested.

As we have defined earlier, ethnomethodology assumes that people are trying to make
sense of the world around them (Cuff et al. 2015; Garfinkel 1952), which is an obvious
assumption but important to be exclaimed. This suggests that the nature of humans is that they
continually shape and understand their reality through the accounts (sets of practices) that they
practice. Considerably, the debates of accounts by Woolgar (1981a, 1981b) and Barnes (1981)
should be something to take note of. According to Woolgar (1981b), Barnes have suggested in
his paper that his definition of accounts stirs up the confusion, for Woolgar have suggested that
Barnes definition about accounts, which is accounts do not represent reality but is the reality.
Though Barnes (1981) shown in his article before Woolgar wrote his suggestion above
contradictory to what Barnes actually suggests:

“My work refers to interests, not to agents’ account of interests, and the two cannot be
assumed to be the same, [any more] than cream-cakes and accounts of cream-cakes can
be assumed to be the same. With cream-cakes there is a chance of satisfying hunger –
with accounts of cream-cakes there is not”

Though as Woolgar (1981b) have exclaimed that Barnes have taken a position of
accounts as constitutive of reality which could lead to the unclear division of reality and the
accounts of reality. As Woolgar have exclaimed:

“In particular, attempts to investigate the use of ‘accounts’ as reflective can be regarded
as a denial of the obvious, and hence absurd. Barnes argues as if ‘cream cakes’ existed
independently of the accounting procedures whereby they are constituted (accounts in the
second sense [Barnes view in accounts]) and then claims a distinction between this
independent entity and the ways in which this entity is sometimes referred to (accounts in
the first sense).” (Woolgar 1981b, emphasis added)

With these productive debates, though they were discussing on how they view
ethnomethodology, they have not constituted a discussion that concerns about social order or
social change and how accounts could help in shaping the two. Though as suggested by the two,
social life would be confined on how their accounts shape their view of reality (Woolgar 1981a,
1981b; Barnes 1981) though the great difference between the two is how accounts are perceived
which could largely impact how accounts could shape social order and social change to social
life. If we take Woolgar’s definition about ‘accounts’ that accounts, as Garfinkel also suggested,
are reflexive and meditative (Woolgar 1981a, 1981b; Garfinkel 1951) then we could say that
social order is flexible for accounts are continually shaped and reshaped and that social change is
a constant process because individuals are constantly reshaping their ideas about reality. Though

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common sense or even science is ‘finite provinces of meanings’ they are still used as nodes for
individuals have their own standpoints. Yet, a certain ‘finite provinces of meaning’, for example
science, should not be taken for granted by any theorist or escalate a ‘finite province of meaning’
higher than another—for this would defeat a purpose of ethnomethodology, to free the
individual, though this is not the sole purpose of ethnomethodology, as a polemic attack to
positivism (Woolgar 1981b).

Post-Structural Debates

Poststructuralism, in my opinion, is one of the most intriguing thought that came to rise
within the past few decades. This sociological thought has questioned every aspect of social life
and basic conceptions of people (Cuff et al. 2015). One of the most influential, though he does
not consider himself into any label, poststructuralist is Michel Foucault. Foucault has been a very
controversial figure within the academe because of his insights (Danaher, Schirato, and Webb
2000). Though even with his controversial status, Foucault is widely recognized with his insights
about social life. But some of the postmodern theorist, mainly Baudillard, has been blatant with
his disregard to Foucault (Baudrillard et al. 1988). Baudillard subjected Foucault’s ideas as
mystic discourses:

“Foucault’s is not therefore a discourse of truth but a mythic discourse in the strong sense
of the word, and I secretly believe that it has no illusions about the effect of truth it
produces…those who follow in Foucault’s footsteps and pass by this mythic arrangement
to end up with the truth, nothing but the truth.” (1988:30)

There became a lot of misconceptions about the concepts and theories of Foucault, which is why
Danaher, Schirato, and Webb (2000) have constructed a book named “Understanding Foucault”. The
book’s purpose, as its title suggests, is to understand Foucault. It would be a question whether there is an
orthodox Foucauldian understanding— taking into account Foucault’s confusing stances. Though it is not
just Foucault who encountered backlashes with their theories, for postmodernists and poststructuralists
(like Derrida, Baudrillard and Deleuze) also had encountered this hostility with their view points
(Danaher, Schirato, and Webb 2000). We should be aware that Foucault denies being labeled being
postmodern or even poststructuralist. Though Danaher, Schirato and Webb (2000) labeled Foucault, or to
be more specific have associated, as a postmodernist and also being poststructuralist.

Foucault has been influenced by a lot of schools of thought from Marxism to Nietzche
(Danaher, Schirato, and Webb 2000). Marxism has been a great influence to Foucault with its
teachings about not just explaining the world but to change it (Danaher, Schirato, and Webb
2000:4-5) which would explain his activism. Though he also is influenced with phenomenology
of Edmund Husserl and Martin Heiddeger which constituted the existential philosophy of Sartre

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“…all truth came out of the ability of human subjects to consider and understand
what was going on around them, including their own involvement in the world—
their desires, motivations and activities.” (Danaher, Schirato, and Webb 2000:5)

From this influences Foucault’s approach are rather polemic attacks with this two
movements, for Foucault was “…far more interested in, and receptive to, work which, instead of
trying to understand the ‘one and only’ truth of things, tried to ‘historicise’ the different kinds of
truth, knowledge, rationality and reason that had developed in cultures.” (Danaher, Schirato, and
Webb 2000:6). Foucault saw that people are limited within the contexts that they are in, and that
rationality or the constituted truth would change over time (Danaher, Schirato, and Webb
2000:7). This could suggest that the nature of humans in knowing and understanding the ‘reality’
would be limited within their contexts.

Also Foucault was influenced with psychoanalysis though the flaws of psychoanalysis
pave the way for him to formulate two ideas; first is he has introduced the conceptions of
repression and the unconscious—replacing the ‘knowing subject’ of the psychoanalysts, second
is making sense of “the ‘truth’ of the subject (Danaher, Schirato, and Webb 2000:9). We could
see that Foucault views that agents of society are repressed but they have the choice to liberate
themselves (Danaher, Schirato, and Webb 2000) though Baudrillard have rejected and called
Foucault’s formulations as an alibi, “Repression is only a trap and an alibi to hide assigning an
entire culture to the sexual imperative.” (Baudrillard et al. 1988:34) Though in this idea about
agency and structure, Foucault has given greater emphasis to the agency, though at the same time
there are structures (to be specific, the episteme2) that could coerces them (Danaher, Schirato,
and Webb 2000:17). Though as Baudrillard et al (1988:40-41) suggests that Foucault told us that
“… nothing functions with repression (repression), everything functions with production;
nothing functions with repression (refoulment), everything functions with liberation.”
Baudrillard et al. (1988:41) suggests that the idea about ‘repression’ and “…liberation is just the
same thing for liberation is fomented by repression…” which makes us wonder whether
liberating ourselves or confining ourselves would even matter.

Also the episteme (or the order of things) would suggest that Foucault views episteme as a structure that constitutes
reality which is shaped through discourses through the milieu, so with these ideas we could argue that Foucault’s
ontological stances are objective though he uses the imperatives (or discourses in that milieu) of people for him to
formulate the social reality that individuals are in (which suggests a subjective stance to Foucault’s theorizing).
Though the order of things are not clearly clarified on how it changes over time which would be a great question
about social change for Foucault. Also, episteme (or the order of things) would give us an idea about the view of
Foucault about social order because as discussed by Danaher , Schirato, and Webb (2000:17), “…an episteme is the
product of certain organizing principles which relate things to one another… [it] determines how we make sense of
things, what we can know, and what we say.”

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Conclusion in Ethnomethodology and Poststucturalism Debates

We have seen that the ethnomethodology movement had been a polemic attack against
positivism which is also a goal for poststructurualism. Though these two movements have the
same purpose, which is being a polemic attack against positivism and enligthenment, still they
have a lot of differences. As we have seen earlier with the debates of ethnomethodology that it is
not anti-science (Woolgar 1981b), in contrast with poststructuralism that they do abandon
rationalism and enlightenment (Cuff et al. 2015). For example of this abandonment is Foucault’s
concept of ‘episteme’ which have rendered science as a mere ‘episteme’ (Danaher, Schirato, and
Webb 2000) though this was also blatant with ethnomethodology which also reduced science and
rationality as a ‘limited provinces of meaning’ (Cuff et al. 2015). But the difference between the
two movements is that ethnomethodology does not fully discount science as a way to see
meaning within social life (Schutz 1962) and as for poststructuralism (specifically Foucault) they
have reduced science as a part of a genealogy of knowledge, like an epoch of history and
disarmed that ‘episteme’ as a historical event which could be replaced in the future. As for
ethnomethodology, they do not disarm the powers of science though they provincialize it and
make it only a part of the social whole rather than it (science) constitutes social reality.
Ethnomethodology and poststructuralism should not be considered a dichotomy, even though
with their sheer contrast between agency and structure and etc but rather two polemic attacks
against the all transcending positivism that has been elevated from the academe for decades.

In our discussions earlier, we have seen the specific debates within ethnomethodology
and poststructuralism. We have been informed through the debates of Woolgar and Barnes about
the peculiarities of Ethnomethodology and the different views t hat ethnomethodologist share
within their field. This could be a suggestion for a study to understand the early tenets of
ethnomethodology, though I do not suggest an orthodox way of understanding
ethnomethodology for it would be too prescriptive for me, though I do not denounce
prescription. It would be a great help for individuals to understand ethnomethodology not just
into a single standpoint of an ethnomethodologist but as a dialogue of ideas of ethnomethodology
and let the individual itself understand ethnomethodology. For individuals are capable of
understanding theoretical concepts even though with their biases or values. Same goes to
poststructuralism, even though with the negative views of poststructuralism, it would be
beneficial for us when we fully comprehend their concepts and ideas and not take it as it is. We
should, as in the beginning of the paper, provincialize these theories and understand their context
(Curato 2013) not just because for us to apply it in our context as ‘contextualized’ theories but
for us to understand the theory in their context and understand what they really meant about the
theory in their own contexts or ‘provinces’.

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The Different Facets of Marxism

Hegelian Marxism: Georg Lukàcs

Georg Lukàcs is one of the most influential writers in humanistic Marxist thought (with
Antonio Gramsci), though he had written more often about the history of novels (Cuff et al.
2015:180) which sprung up a lot of controversies and critiques of him being too ideological
(Cuff et al. 2015:180; Brecht 1974). Lukàcs (1980[1938]) have argued that realism should be of
importance within literature, and that it should be saved from the movement of expressionism
that James Joyce and other writers have used in their literary works (Brecht 1974).

Though this insight of Lukàcs have been critiqued by a lot of writers for example Bertolt
Brecht, in his writing “Against Georg Lukàcs” he have exemplified that realism has a lot of
facets which Lukàcs did not see that realism could be like an anarchistic/naturalist type which
does not reflect “…the deeper causal complexes of society” and is a mere reification (Brecht
1974). This debate has been cited because the roots of these debates are of Lukàcs’ concept of
‘social totality’ which he argues that the identity of an individual is constituted by the social
whole rather than the individual formulates his own individuality this suggests that the structures
of society is more reinforcing than the individual’s desires. Individuals shape their ‘social reality’
and become distorted with the ‘social totality’ which suggests that the subject (which Lukàcs
shown to us is the working class, the universal subject) could shape their consciousness and
formulate their positions and interests in society (Cuff et al. 2015) Though this does not mean
that the subject and object are completely dichotomies, according to Lukàcs, this ‘dichotomy’
that has been suggested by Walsh (1998a) is a product of social separation of individuals
throughout society (Cuff et al. 2015:183).

This could also suggest that the nature of humans is that they constitute their reality but
are reified by the capitalist which raised his critique against Expressionism (Cuff et al.
2015:182). In this light, the individuals should know their class and position within the society
not just mere reifications that an individual has constituted to himself for them to be cautious
about their genuine class in society. For social change to happen then they should break away
from the reifications that constitutes the capitalist’s system of social order and be conscious
about their classes by being enlightened of the social totality of society for them to expropriate
and destroy the capitalist society.

Western Marxism: Guy Debord

“Society of the Spectacle” is one of the most influential works that Guy Debord has
produced; he has argued that our society is distracted to celebrities, visuals, and commodities that

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has been produce by the present mode of production (Debord 2003:8 [thesis 6]). Though this
spectacular scene within our society is not because of the mass-media for it only helps
constitutes this reality as Debord (2003:7 [thesis 5]) have exclaimed,

“The spectacle cannot be understood as a mere visual deception produced by mass-media

technologies. It is a worldview that has actually been materialised, a view of a world that
has become objective.”

Though Kaplan (2012) have argued that Debord portrayed the individual is too coerced
by the cultural productions that the capitalist society has created leaving the individual passive
and not able to withstand the domination of capitalism. Guy Debord in a perspective of liberal
individual, as the nature of humans, which they continually shape their identity but against their
own individuality (genuine) for they represent not their own individuality but the image they
want to represent themselves (Debord 2003:8 [thesis 7]). The spectacle becomes a structure (for
it was objectified by reinforcing an image about the world) that now coerces the individual and it
makes social change elusive for social action would be impossible for the individuals are more
distracted in creating their own image than understanding their present situation (Kaplan
2012:467). As Kaplan (2012) have shown that this ‘…liberal individual’, which Debord
subscribe into, ‘ignores the ways in which the individual’s thinking and cultural plans are given
by the surrounding social…’ So people maintain social order, when individuals constitute and
image that is socially acceptable (through copying the celebrities and stars of the society) rather
than constitute your individuality or the ‘authentic’ individual, as Debord (2003:9 [thesis 9])
have said “In a world that is really upside down, the true is a moment of the false.” In
understanding the spectacle, Guy Debord had said in his book that:

“In analysing the spectacle we are obliged to a certain extent to use the spectacle’s own
language, in that sense that we have to operate on the methodological terrain of the
society that expresses itself in the spectacle. For the spectacle [are] both the meaning and
the agenda of our particular socio-economic formation. It is the historical moment in
which we are caught.” (2013:9 [thesis 11])

The spectacle here became an objective reality but at the same time we should understand
it in its own terms and somehow subjective to the spectacle’s language. Kaplan (2012) argues
that it is not just through labor that humanity constitutes itself, but also ‘by social interaction
through the medium of culture and language’. Kaplan (2012) suggests that we should understand
humanity through their social interactions though this would require both objectively studying
them and subjectively. For Kaplan (2012), individuals are rich with cultural resources that we
could be interpreted, rather than the view of Debord (2003) of individuals being passive and only
distracted in constituting his image within an image concerned society or a spectacular society.

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In the discussion above, we have seen the sheer difference between Hegelian Marxism
which tries to do away liberal thought not just in literature but within the social whole for this, as
he argues, alienates the individual from the social totality (Lukàcs 1980 [1938]), also how the
individual has been separated from the social whole, being isolated and also have a passive
notion reified because of the capitalist society (Kaplan 2012) though Debord’s portrayal is
somehow the same though the differences between them is that Debord’s theorizing is that the
passivity of the individuals is because of its dependency to image-building (Kaplan 2012).

Marxism has been very multi-faceted for it provides very broad scope of theorizing,
though we should be aware that their theories should be provincialized (Curato 2013), as I have
discussed earlier, that their theories are contextualized within their social context which is clearly
different from ours. The writings of Marxist and Marxian theorists helped us raise critiques of
contemporary society, though as we have clearly discussed earlier that even though they help us
understand and critique society, they too are subjected into criticism for they are incomplete
theories and is still amidst for extension or reformulation.

As for Hegelian and Western Marxism, we could conclude that these theories could be
great starting points for theorizing in the global south which has another context from the
western countries (Curato 2013). Though we have shown you the productive dialogues between
theorists and this would help us understand the concepts that have been presented to us by these

Post colonialism and Postmodernism: The Growing Sensitivity to


Both of these movements are a polemic to the imperial movements around the world,
though it is no doubt that both of these movements, obviously, have different views and
epistemologies that they subscribe into, which give rise to discussion about the Subject and the
Other, the colonized nations around the world, ideology, interest and desire, etc. In this section,
we would be looking at Spivak’s “Can the Subaltern Speak?” which is an influential work that
gave light to the positions the Subject and the Other and also about the ‘subaltern’ (Spivak 2010)
and his discussion with the conversation of Foucault and Deleuze. Also, we would talk about
some postmodern theorists who have a say about particularities of the world and the Other. This
would help us orient ourselves with the rise of sociological thought which is no longer centered
within the Westernize form of sociology.

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Should the Subaltern Speak? Trying to Make Sense of Spivak

The West, as Spivak (2010:66) and Said (1988) have argued, is the Subject of the world.
Though such postmodern theorists (especially Foucault) have discounted the political economy
of the position of the western world and have rendered it as an ‘episteme’ rather than influenced
by economic factors, which is a clear polemic attack against classical Marxism and positivism,
which questions the Subjectivity of the West/Occident and raises the concerns of the Others. It is
also at the question whether, as Lukàcs (1971) have argued, that there is a universal subject
which emancipator sociologists (Spivak 2010; Ascione 2017) have described that this subject is
the white male rather than a universal (if there is such a thing) individual which constitutes all of
the humanity. So in these terms, Spivak (2010) the individual subject here is constrained by
his/her interests and desires which are objective. Though the intercourse of subject and object
still is interdependent which do not give a hierarchal status between the two. This leads us to the
ideas of agency and structure of individuals, which Spivak (2010) suggests that the individual
subject is fettered with their interests and desires (inner structures), in contrast with Foucault’s
arguments. So the nature of individuals here is that they are fettered within their desires and
interests that are constituted through their knowledge and could attain these through power
(Spivak 2010). Foucault (1976) had argued that power is everywhere, so it is dispersed within
society and anyone could attain power through knowledge and which had led Spivak to argue
that Foucault was saying:

“In the Foucault-Deleuze conversation, the issue seems to be that there is no

representation, no signifier… [the] theory is a relay of practice… the oppressed
can know and speak for themselves.” (Spivak 2010, emphasis added)

Though in this light, Said (1983:243) would “…obliterate the role of classes, the role of
economics, the role of insurgency and rebellion…” which as Spivak (2010) told us is very
blatant and pertinent.

So how could we understand the social order of the society and how social change could
happen in emancipatory sociology? As Spivak (2010) have emphasized, though in contrast with
Deleuze and Foucault, interest and desire constitutes the individual who also have constituted the
s/Subject. Intellectuals as representations to people are raised by theorists though (Lukàcs 1971;
Foucault 1976) is somehow this position is rather peculiar with Spivak (2010:69) as he argued
“… the political appeal of prisoners, soldiers and schoolchildren is disclosed through the
concrete experience of the intellectual, the one who diagnoses the episteme.” They have not
recognized that an intellectual could consolidate the international division of labor (Spivak
2010:69). This theoretical framework is maintained as he said in his article, “The unrecognized
contradiction within a position that valorizes the concrete experience of the oppressed, while

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being so uncritical about the historical role of the intellectual, is maintained by a verbal
slippage.” (Spivak 2010:69, emphasis added). So in contrast with Foucault, Spivak sees that it is
not the intellectual that represents the ‘subalterns’ that could change the social sphere nor
enlighten them with their present conditions (Spivak 2010) but the subjective collective action.
That is why we should recreate the interests/desires of individuals for this constitutes the present
social order of the social milieu.

Understanding Postmodern Theories

Before we go into postmodernism/ity, it would be better for us to know the difference

between postmodernism and postmodernity which Appiah (1991) have discussed. But before
that, I have seen that the problems that the postmodern theorists have discussed is more of the
specifics of language, culture, consumption, etc which would take a long time to explain so we
would just base our understanding of postmodernism/ity through Fredric Jameson who has
briefly but adequately articulated the ideas of postmodernism/ity. As we go back to the definition
of postmodernism/ity, postmodernism/ity is seen as (though not only) a literary movement which
Jameson (1985) have discussed. Appiah (1991) begun discussing Weber’s understanding of
modernity and rationalization and to understand postmodernism/ity we should disregard the
ideas of Weber’s modernity and rationalization. For as Appiah (1991) have argued that with the
disregard of Weber’s rationalization we could see that postmodernism is ‘seek[ing] to subvert…
reason… the pervasion of reason’ which would lead us to understand that postmodernism is a
post-Enlightenment or post-reason thought. Postmodernism also ‘assumes a particular shape…
[and] reflects the specificities of its setting’ (Appiah 1991). For as Postmodernity it is argued by
Appiah (1991) that it is when postmodernism addresses accounts of things such as advertising
and poetry, it is, as Appiah argued, that they are theories of themselves. Though this sheds light
about the clear definitions of terms (specifically postmodernism and postmodernity), but the
peculiarity of such defining elicits a problem within the signification of postmodernism/ity which
would just lead us to a problem of philosophical origin, which is important, though it would lead
us into a void of definitions and lead us to not really defining the term at all. Though I do not
discount defining terms and their specificities for this helps us with taxonomical implications but
when the reader or the theorist has been stuck within the definitions then it would lead the reader
or theorist into a cyclical redefinition which would lead not defining the word at all, which
would lead the term or signifier into a mystical position that elevates itself from a position that
we could not conceptualize nor understand the word itself. Arguably, this could be the reason of
concept of words under erasures or ‘sous rature.' We would move ahead with the concepts and
epistemologies of postmodernism, for the discussion of definitions would be too lengthy and
would have to lead us also into the void of losing the meaning of words.

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Jameson (1985) had seen that there are a lot of critiques against postmodernism/ity and this
theoretical framework is highly unaccepted and misunderstood. Jameson (1985) have seen that
postmodernism is just a polemic attack against high modernism which Appiah (1991) also
distinguished. In the light of this, Jameson (1985) had distinguished two characters of
postmodernism which helped it express the ‘inner truth’ within a late capitalistic social order.
The first character is pastiche, which Jameson (1985) argued as a kind of parody which had lost
its humor. He told us that almost all of the modernist writers subscribe to a unique and
individualist style which is a writer’s fingerprint with this other writers use these unique styles
are being capitalized (through mimicking), somewhat mocks, a writer’s unique style of writing
(Jameson 1985). But when people subscribe in questioning language and ordinary speech etc.
then this would destroy the privatization of styles and mannerism of authors which would give
birth into, as what Foucault termed as ‘episteme,’ new social wholeness rather than extremely
individualize humans (James 1985). This reframes our thinking about postmodernism/ity which
we thought that it puts a person into an extreme individuality but rather the individual is being
re-encapsulated within the social whole while retaining the individual’s individuality. This
suggests that the individuals are not confined being agents or being coerced by structures, but the
interconnection between the two constitutes the individuals’ behavior within a milieu. The
second characteristic, which is a stance of poststructuralism, is the death of the subject (Jameson
1985). It has been argued that individualism is rendered as an ideology, rather than an
ontological stance, which would subject the individual into an objective ‘episteme’ that defines
the individuals and have put them into a passive role or nature. This would constitute a social
order which is heavily dependent to the ‘episteme’ rather than the social action of people. It is
very evident that postmodernism did not discuss social change for they are within a social milieu
which would put them into an episteme.


Postcolonialism and Postmodernism are more likely alike rather than conflicting theories,
though postcolonialism tries to free the ‘Other’ from the Western ideologies but still subjects the
individual into a structure (which is the nation) and confines the individual in there. But it
emphasizes the subjective learnings within the country that defines a nation. On the other hand,
postmodernism has led the individual subject into a passive role no longer active within the
disarray of social life (Jameson 1985). I think this is a significant feature of postmodernism, for it
no longer creates an active voice to the people which Spivak (2010) also have suggested. Finally,
postcolonialism and postmodernism are still misunderstood hitherto which is why it is better for
readers and sociologists to understand the philosophical trends of postmodernism and

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Contemporary Sociologies: Understanding Theories through Dialogues and Debates

Quantitative and Qualitative Integration and its Perils

The quantitative and qualitative divide within the research realm has a bustling amount of
literature. This dichotomy, as suggested with Silverman (1998), is one of the most intriguing
dichotomies for scholars; they had been trying to integrate these two realms of research (Bryman
1984, 2006, 2007). It is yet troubling whether such integration could happen, which we would
discuss later. However, such misunderstandings and common conceptions should be broken
down for us to really understand what the quantitative and qualitative divide offers. In this
section, we would discuss Alan Bryman’s articles about this topic for he offers a comprehensive
review with the quantitative and qualitative discussion. At the end of this section, we would
identify some research areas that future scholars and sociologists should take and tackle.

Bryman (1984) tried to depict whether the debate of quantitative and qualitative research
is a question of method or epistemology. In his article, he tried to depict the dilemma of the
quantitative and qualitative distinction which he told us that there are two distinctions between
the debate: epistemological level and a technical one (Bryman 1984). These two distinctions of
the debate are raised through the three main areas which are: (a) Techniques and Sensitivity, (b)
Qualitative Research as Preparation, and lastly (c) Combining Methods. Let us take a closer look
at these distinctions.

Technique and Sensitivity

As we all know, the epistemological stances of both realms (quantitative and qualitative)
are clearly divided. Quantitative researches has an epistemological stance of positivism and as
for qualitative researches, it has an epistemological stance of intepretivism or constructivism
(Silverman 1998). These stances would clearly question their technique of how they take in the
data that they need for the research and the techniques which they would use (Bryman 1984).
Researchers tend to side into a certain epistemology, for example phenomenology and
ethnomethodology (qualitative) is a polemic attack against positivism (quantitative). As Bryman
(2007) presented, through interviews of researchers that used both methods for a research, which
they put greater faith to a certain epistemology for they are more confident to that certain
epistemology because of their familiarity with it. Bryman (1984) also suggested that some
researchers tend to lean their “… support [to] qualitative methodology [for] its associated
techniques are more sensitive to complexities of social phenomena than quantitative methods
which tend to ride roughshod over enigmatic quality.”

Qualitative Research as Preparation

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Almost all of the literature about the qualitative and quantitative researches, this topic is
one of the most long-standing discussions within the literature (Bryman 1984). As Bryman
(1984) have presented that researchers have used qualitative methodologies as an exploratory
research rather than used as a verification. In this light, as we have argued earlier, the preferences
of the researcher and his/her familiarity of the realm would be superior (Bryman 1984, 2007); it
has been argued that both of these realms would really compromise the purity of the qualitative
or quantitative methodology (Bryman 1984). Bryman (1984) also showed that through this
argument it belies itself when we talk about hypothesis testing because of two things: first, it
diminishes the epistemological stances of qualitative research which would let the structure of
quantitative research colonize the whole research paper, and lastly this would belittle the
significance of qualitative researches.

Combining Methods

Bryman (1984, 2007) had argued that combining the two methods is implied for it to be a
strategy of triangulation of a research, he also exemplified that researchers combine this methods
because they argued that these are two complementary methods though this would raise some
epistemological issues (1984). It is also a peril whenever a data set would appear more
interesting than the other which would overpower the other data set (Bryman 2007) though
researchers avoided these through building teams and handle a part of the research (Bryman
2007). But this would, as Bryman (2007) argued, lead to ‘…compartmentalization of roles and
responsibilities that can hinder the integration of findings.’ This also would challenge the
researcher as he/she tries to bridge ontological divides that the two presents (Bryman 2007)
though this is not really about the clash of the ontological or epistemological stances but how the
researcher bring together the data. There are a lot of perils and obstacles in integrating both
methodological realms which Bryman (2007) have discussed in his paper.

Future Research Ideas in the Philippines

We have discussed the implications of integrating both of quantitative and qualitative

methodologies and what are the perils of such integration. We also have discussed the three main
points of the debate between qualitative and quantitative: (1) technique and sensitivity, (2)
qualitative research as preparation, (3) and finally combining methods.

Taking note with the quantitative and qualitative divide, debates, and its attempt of
integration, the question here is what are the research ideas that we should tackle within our
researches? We should indulge ourselves in this question after all the reframing and re-
understanding of certain concepts that we have discussed. The following are one of the research

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Contemporary Sociologies: Understanding Theories through Dialogues and Debates

ideas that are viable to try to shed light into the new administration of Duterte and also the
contemporary times.

1. The Ideas of Filipino/a Scholars about Postmodernism/ity

2. Discovering the Ideological Framework of Duterte
3. President Rodrigo Roa Duterte under Conversation Analysis

These ideas are important to understand within the present situation. The first research
idea would discover the ideas of postmodernism/ity of Filipino/a scholars for we have seen the
misconceptions of postmodernism of Oriental scholars and even Occidental scholars. This would
help us understand the position of postmodernism in the Philippine academe and if the scholars
or students truly understand postmodernism even with its bustling critiques. For we know that
postmodernism would and could help with our frameworks in our researches and for policy
making. The second research idea would try to look into our President’s ideological framework
in the sense of politics, understanding whether or not he is pro-poor or not. It would be essential
for us Filipinos/as to understand his position in the political realm for us to understand him fully
and know how we could research his action in a right context which would lead us to the third
research. As President Rodrigo Roa Duterte stated that 3/5 of his statements are ‘foolishness
(Ramos 2017) which would challenge our ideas about him and his linguistic patterns and what he
really wants to say.

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