Postmodern Thought and the Self: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis

Natasha van Antwerpen, Candice Oster

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    The present paper advocates for the use of phenomenology in the study of the self, presenting the findings from a phenomenological study on the participants’ engagement with challenges to the self brought about by their experience studying postmodern thought. Accordingly, the present study utilised Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis to investigate the influence of postmodernism on the self, beliefs, and values. Seven participants took part in semi-structured interviews, in which four themes and 14 subthemes were identified in response to postmodernism: ‘ambivalence’; ‘uncertainty’; ‘responses to uncertainty’; and ‘self as an exception’. These findings were both consistent and inconsistent with criticisms of postmodernism, as participants expressed a sense of postmodernism as destabilising, however, the need for action and stability frequently led participants to respond with the strengthening of their beliefs, or an unwillingness to refute them. The experiences and responses of participants to postmodernism challenge the view that postmodern thinking has a negative influence upon individuals and their beliefs and demonstrate the efficacy of phenomenological approaches in understanding experiences of the self, particularly where they encounter challenges and complexity.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)107-127
    Number of pages21
    JournalHuman Studies
    Issue number1
    Early online date17 Dec 2019
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2020


    • Epistemology
    • Phenomenology
    • Postmodernism
    • Self


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