Peter Bogason. 1999. Public Administration and Postmodern Conditions, Administrative Theory & Praxis, vol. 21:508-515
In this article, Bogason is describing this potential “ephemeral” theory to its readers and how it was interpreted in the 1990s. Bogason provides a substantiated history for how postmodernism evolved into the social sciences, including rational for why academics have agreed or disagreed to the theory. Highlighting authors in public administration and how they have followed various postmodernist ideas like metanarratives, the understanding the relativity of truth through the use of semiotics, social constructivism, and the questioning of the positivists. Finally, Bogason describes “new” ideas for the future of postmodernism in PA, which include pragmatism, deconstruction and narrative analysis, quantum theory, and suggest additional possible topics.
Gary S. Marshall. 2004. In Modernism’s Wake: Public Administration and Policy in the 21st Century, Public Administration Review, vol. 64: 378-382.
This book review surveys recent literature (from 2002) on post modernism and its intersection with public administration. The common thread of these pieces on postmodernism is that opinion is not value free, which is a critique of Newtonian science. Rationality is in question, as well as how we make our decisions.
First, Hugh Miller’s Postmodern Public Policy describes the over rationality and the new epiphenomenalism (everything happens in a second) in the modern society. He suggests a policy analysis need to take closer look at why things have their meaning. The communication and meaning of issues in public life is key in the postmodern world.
Next in Goktug Morcol’s A New Mind for Policy Analysis: Toward a Post-Newtonian and Post-positivist Epistemology, he uses chaos theory and systems theory to describe social realities. He argues that post-positivist Newtonain science uses objectivity, rationality and utility, which is irrelevant in a quantum or cognitive psychology world. Rational decision-making is being questioned, which directly affects policy analysis. He creates a new construct to analyze why people make the decisions they do.
Finally, Michael Spicer’s Public Administration and the State: A postmodern Perspective describes through his American Pragmatist lens how American public administration is developed on our metanarratives, using Loytard’s vision of postmodernism, as our historical reference point. He uses public administration theorist we have studied like Waldo, Wilson, Gulick and even Simon to describe our American PA experience. This makes us bias in our understanding government and PA in general.
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