Partly Fragmented, Partly Integrated: An Anthropological Examination of “Postmodern Fragmented Subjects”

Essay Excerpt

On the basis of my interviews with some urbanites and suburbanites in the United States, I will argue that Jameson's account of "postmodern schizo-frag- mentation" is only partly right. Each person whose talk I have analyzed did have disparate schemas that can be traced to heterogeneous social discourses and 3 practices. However, emotionally salient life experiences mediated their inter- nalization of social discourses and led to a partial cognitive integration of them. This was true across boundaries of age, ethnicity, color, class, and gender for my interviewees, suggesting problems with not only Jameson's account but also others that expect a "rupture of narrativity" among marginal or exploited groups in this society (e.g., Ortner 1991). My research also throws suspicion on studies that infer general forms of consciousness from art works or theories created for an elite audience. (362-3)

About the Author

Claudia Strauss is Professor of Anthropology at Pitzer College. She studies the beliefs of U.S. Americans about social policy issues, such as immigration and economic fairness. Her current research investigates the life stories and political outlooks of the unemployed and underemployed. Her areas of expertise also include psychological anthropology, culture theory, American political culture, discourse analysis, and qualitative social research methods.

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