Postfoundationalism as a Practical Way of Interdisciplinary Dialoque: Narrative Research on HIV and AIDS
It will be argued that the Postfoundationalist approach is part of a paradigm shift. The alternative paradigm becomes apparent in the names given to it. Labels such as “post-structuralism”, “deconstructionism”, “the interpretive turn”, “the new hermeneutics”, “postmodernism”, and “postfoundationalism” are all, in some or other way, applicable in describing this alternative metaphor for understanding and interpreting reality. It is new and therefore a paradigm that has moved beyond certain ways of understanding. It moved beyond structuralism and also beyond constructivism. It corrects the subjective, individualistic, and intra-psychic ideas on the construction of realities within constructivism. At the same time it is a protest against relativism and an emphasis on the value-driven processes through which preferred realities are socially constructed.
Such a preferred interdisciplinary reality can be socially constructed on the basis of Postfoundationalist theory. Wentzel van Huyssteen , one of the main scholars in this field, has formulated the social and contextual embeddedness of this approach as follows: “… we cannot talk abstractly and theoretically about the phenomenon of rationality anymore: it is only as individual human beings, living with other human beings in concrete situations and contexts, that we can claim some form of rationality.”
This approach to rationality becomes the basis of an interdisciplinary method, referred to as transversal rationality. Therefore it makes sense to use a very specific research project as case study. As a practical theologian, working in the context of South Africa, I have focussed on research in the field of HIV and Aids in order to provide a concrete situation for the implementation of Postfoundationalism in the interdisciplinary process.
Keywords: Postfoundationalism, Social Constructionism, Narrative Research, Interdisciplinary Process, Transversal Rationality, HIV and Aids
Prof. Julian Cornelius Muller
Professor and Head of Department, Department of Practical Theology, University of Pretoria