There was a good question posted by Tom about my blog on reflexivity. Because there was no quick and easy way for me to answer it, I figured I would devote a new blog on answering the question posed: which historical turning point is meant by Bentz and Shapiro (2001)?
Basically they argue that inquiry and science is taking place not only in an intellectual, but also a historical and social context. Right now, this socio-historical context is at a crucial point, for five major reasons:
1. There is a truly global market emerging, which influences phenominal growth in capitol, labor and commodities. This means that structures, for example of interaction, are overlapping and connecting.
2. There is an evergrowing push towards an information society. This restructures our public and private lives and shapes a new type of reality.
3. We are nearing our environmental and natural limits with our human activities. These create substantial problems.
4. The end of the Cold War redefines issues of capitalism, socialism, democracy and authoritarianism, which where so influential in the past century (remind yourself this is an article from 1998!).
5. Previously marginalized groups are taking up an active role in political and social power, as well as public and intetellectual dialogues.
So, five aspects which according to Bentz and Shapiro constitute a historical turning point, and call for a postmodern approach. The five aspects bring about new realities.
Well, so far about what the article had to say. As for me, I don’t agree with all of what they are saying. I think to state that we are at some major historical turning point and therefore need a new approach to science is not convincing. First of all, I think they overly dramatize the trends that would prove this turning. For example the shift from the 19th to the 20th century was called de fin-de-siècle, which was also a historical turning point. Secondly, the idea of postmodernism has been around for much longer and I think it is wrong to feel that it is especially now relevant. They assume reality has always been socially constructed, not just the past 20 years. So these new realities that Bentz and Shapiro talk of are not necessarily new. Also, it can in some cases be more useful to take a more modern approach (for example in finding a cure for cancer, using modernist methods).
I hope I clarified some things and am curious to see what you think.