Assess the significance of the following:  "Postmodernism is a broad range of re-conceptualizations of society, history, and the self as cultural constructs, hence as rhetorical constructs."

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that the quotation is fairly significant in how is assigns meaning from a socially constructive level.  For the Postmodernist, reality has to be seen and critiqued in different lights.  It is not something that needs to be accepted as unquestioned and transcendent truth. Rather, it is something that must be assessed and reassessed.  It is here where I think that the statement is both valid and highly significant.  On one hand, the notion of "re- conceptualization" is particularly valid one, as it makes clear that social constructions of "truth" are exactly that:  Social constructions.  The manner in which the individual sees both society and self are constructs that are temporal, contingent with new patterns of vocabulary that emerge.  The necessity to refine and redefine consciousness on a variety of levels are "rhetorical" because we gain greater accuracy with language and with social redefinition to understand how words can be more precise in their reconfiguration. 

The interesting element to note here for the Postmodernist would be that language will always be imprecise.  Language will always lack some quality of experience and something will be missing in attempting to perfectly explain what it is we seek or need to describe.  In this, Postmodernism might suggest that the "rhetorical constructs" that are a vital part to our being will always be in redefinition.  Language is the only means available for articulation, meaning that the web of imprecision is impossible to escape.  for the Postmodern thinker, this makes the notion of "rhetorical construction" something significant for it defines human beings and constantly challenges them at the same time.