Post-modernists challenge the disciplines of anthropology and reject all causal points of view. Post-modernists claim that the aim of ethnography should be the study and interpretation of the ’emics’ of different cultures. In other words this outlook should include their world views, symbols, values, religions, philosophies, and systems of meaning.
Post-modernism is characterised by a rejection of the distinction between the observed and the observer. A distinction made thus between ‘etics’ and ’emics’, between science and non-science. Post-modernism has developed as a movement, as a view of society that attempts to provide a theoretical basis for thought that is politically correct.
Post-modernism therefore questions the validity of modern science and the notions of objective knowledge. In so doing it discards history, rejects humanist concepts, and proceeds to resist any claims to truth. With regard to political science it calls into question the authority of hierarchical and bureaucratic decision making organisations or structures.
In the field of anthropology post-modernism inspires the protection of localised and primitive cultures from so-called First World attempts to reorganise them. Post-modernism has thus spawned a new generation of social movements from New Age sensitivities to Third World fundamentalism. The by-word of post-modernism is ‘deconstructionism’. This nihilistic theory denies there is any objective definition of reality. Post-modernism argues that all textual literary works are replete with self-contradictions that have no inherent meaning. Post-modernism concludes that no piece of writing is intrinsically more valuable that any other.
POMO or post-modernism consists of a movement and view of society that provides the theoretical basis for much of thinking that is termed politically correct. Post-modernists believe that knowledge is shaped by culture and therefore anthropology and anthropologists cannot be objective in their research. This represents a form of extreme relativism and anti-evolutionist philosophy.
Deconstructionism is a recent manifestation of post-modernism that attempts to focus upon the hidden intentions and unexpressed biases of the author of an ethnographic or anthropological thesis. Therefore a substitute for what a culture is really like. Deconstructionists aver that anthropology cannot be objective in its research. They claim anthropologists can only write about how their own culture influences their perspective on the people they are studying.
Deconstructionist reject entirely scientific truth as a goal in ethnology and ethnography. The result of post-modernist outlooks provides fragmentary, nihilistic, and contradictory ideas about the human condition. The aim of post-modernist deconstruction is not the achievement or pursuit of scientific truth about culture. Its aim and goal is to compose interpretations about the so-called ‘other’ – the other culture, that are elegant and convincing. In other words post-modernism is another form of obscurantism.