Ideas Shaping Practice: Philosophy of Home Economics/Human Sciences

Vol. 19, No. 1
ISSN: 1546-2676

Guest Editor:
Sue L. T. McGregor

return to KON home page

subscribe to KON FORUM

browse other KON publications

Kappa Omicron Nu FORUM, Vol. 19, No.1  
1546-2676. Editor: Lisa W. Booth. Official publication of Kappa Omicron Nu National Honor Society. Member, Association of College Honor Societies. Copyright © 2012. Kappa Omicron Nu FORUM is a refereed, semi-annual publication serving the profession of family and consumer sciences. The opinions expressed by the authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of the society. Further information: Kappa Omicron Nu, 1749 Hamilton Road, Suite 106, Okemos, MI 48864. Telephone: 517.351.8335

Interested in submitting an article to KON FORUM? Papers are now being accepted for review. For more information click here.


return to top of page


Kappa Omicron Nu


Postmodernism and Home Economics: Revitalizing the Conversation

Sue L. T. McGregor
Mount Saint Vincent University



Because we live in a postmodern time, the profession needs to continue to engage with the notion of postmodernism. To that end, this paper shares aspects of postmodernism and discusses whether or how home economics has addressed them over the years. Succinctly, home economists (family and consumer sciences, human sciences, human ecology) have rejected the ideas that society has no order, that ethics can be denied, and that there is no place for communicative rationality. In varying degrees, we have accepted relativism (unfortunately), pluralism, and complexity. The goal of this paper is to place postmodernism back on the philosophical radar of the profession as it moves forward into the 21st century.1


Founded during the Modern Era (starting in the late 1800s), the home economics profession was influenced by both modernism and postmodernism, with the latter an under-explored aspect of practice. Failure to deal with postmodernism should come as no surprise because "attempting to clarify meanings inherent in postmodernism approaches what might be described as trying to pin water to a wall" (MacCleave, 1995, p. 55). However, MacCleave (1995) believed that "the issues raised by postmodern theorists should be of concern to home economists" (p. 59). Benn (2009) concurred, arguing that postmodernism has had a great impact on and significance for home economics. These sentiments inform this paper, which strives to entice home economists to re-engage with postmodernism by revitalizing the conversation. The Modern Era has shaped the world for more than two centuries. Postmodernism, an intellectual movement that pushes back against modernism, has existed for about 30 years, since the mid-1980s (Klages, 2001). The basic premise is that grappling with the fundamental nuances of postmodernism is an integral part of philosophically growing the profession.

A review of the Western home economics literature found limited scholarship and agreement pertaining to postmodernism and home economics. Brown (1993) wove a postmodern critique into her analysis of how American home economists philosophically understand themselves. MacCleave (1995) couched her response to The Concept of Theory in Home Economics (Brown & Baldwin, 1995) in postmodernism. Richards (1998, 2000) analyzed postmodernism as she thought it applied to the home economics field's struggle to refocus in a postmodern environment.  

Pendergast (2001) characterized home economics "as a modernist construct" (p. 69). Like Brown (1993), Pendergast faulted home economics for relying too heavily on modernist tools to shape the profession and for continuing to do so. Baldwin (2002) made the case for home economists to see "modernity as an unfinished project" (p. 1) instead of viewing it as dead, replaced with postmodernism. McGregor (2006, Chapter 2) identified five strands of postmodernism, arguing that practice cannot transform unless home economists examine, critique, and confirm their notions of postmodernism.

The next sections of the paper discuss the Modern and the Postmodern Eras, ending with an examination of postmodernism and home economics. The last section summarizes the challenges ahead for the profession.

Overview of Modern and Postmodern Eras

A brief overview of the origins of the Modern and Postmodern Eras is provided to set the context of the paper. Because "the term postmodernism has the potential to gloss over salient historical developments" (MacCleave, 1995, p. 56), and respecting space limitations for this article, the reader is directed to McGregor's (2006) discussion of the world's transition from premodern through modern to postmodern times (see Figure 1), tailored to home economics. 

Figure 1. Transition from Premodern through Modern to Postmodern Eras

Succinctly, the Enlightenment Era preceded the Modern Era. The former is known as the Age of Reason (rationality), industrialization, individualism, political revolutions, and the scientific revolution. These tenets were accepted as key to advancing society and human progress (Kors, 2003; Rohmann, 1999). At the turn of the 20th century, the Modern Era emerged and challenged all things stemming from the Enlightenment Era. In the newly industrialized world, proponents of the Modern movement felt that the forms of art, architecture, literature, religious faith, philosophy, social organization, and activities of daily life that emerged during the Enlightenment Era were too outdated. Those involved with modernism encouraged the re-examination of every aspect of existence. They strove to expose anything holding back progress. The resultant features of the Modern Era manifested in the form of capitalism, imperialism (colonization), consumerism, and technological innovations and progress.

Modernism held sway (some say it still does) until the mid-1900s (Klages, 2001), when a postmodern backlash began to emerge against the fallout of the Modern Era. This fallout included materialism, excessive consumerism and unsustainability, global capitalism, corporate-led globalization, neoliberalism, political conservatism, and religious fundamentalism. Other side effects of modernism included "a victory of reason over inspiration, practicality over established custom, and, for some, alienation over human community" (Rohmann, 1999, p. 265). In this swirling context, the Postmodern Era emerged, based on "the conviction that contemporary society is so hopelessly fractured . . . that no coherent understanding of it is possible" (Rohmann, 1999, p. 310).

Especially important to this paper is modernism's perpetuation through a grand narrative, a set of modern ideas that people tend to take for granted and not question: competition, win-lose mentality, scarcity mentality, survival of the fittest, patriarchy, science, progress, success, and consumerism (Gur-Zéev, 2010). Postmodernism eschews this metanarrative, claiming instead that there are a variety of perspectives on the world (pluralism), none of which can be privileged. Postmodernism believes that the grand narrative should be replaced with small, local narratives, more modest in nature, serving to bring into focus contextual events and not the metaevents shaping all of society (Lyotard, 1979). Postmodernism also repudiates progress and cultural cohesion, rejects intrinsic meaning and reality, and favours eclecticism, relativism, skepticism, and, ironically, ambiguity (Rohmann, 1999). Its hallmark is its denial and refusal to accept the truth of many of modernism's tenets. Aspects of both eras will be discussed throughout the paper as needed to make salient points.

Conceptual Clarity and Caveats

Before engaging with the idea of postmodernism and home economics, a brief overview of the origins of the term is provided, as are several caveats shaping this paper. First, adding the designation of post to the word modern signifies that things have moved beyond earlier schools of thoughts and styles of thinking and practice (Cherryholmes, 1994; Klages, 2001; Pendergast, 2001). Also, the term postmodernism is a recent innovation, first entering the philosophical lexicon in 1979 with the publication of The Postmodern Condition by Jean-François Lyotard (Aylesworth, 2013; Klages (2001).

Second, Irvine (2013) cautioned people to differentiate between the terms and concepts of (a) postmodernity (a specific era), (b) the postmodern (the conditions of a historical era), and (c) postmodernism (reflected in movements with varying levels of intention and self-awareness) (see also Grenz, 1996). The title of this paper employs the term postmodernism (intellectual movement), and the discussion also draws on the notions of an era (modernity/postmodernity) and the conditions of that era (modern/postmodern).

Third, this article mainly reflects deconstructive postmodernism, recognizing there are other strands of postmodernism: popular culture, narrative, liberationist, and constructive (revisionary) (see McGregor, 2006; Oord, 2001). Deconstructive postmodernism involves critically taking something apart to determine its properties and assessing the implications of its ambiguous meanings. Instead of being predetermined by the original author, these meanings can be determined by the reader's own values and definitions (Holland, 2008). Furthermore, these meanings (intended and interpreted) are constantly changing; they are not written in stone (MacCleave, 1995).

Deconstructivism is especially concerned with the imbalanced power relationships in modern society. To reveal this power, postmodernists critique Western, modern culture by examining discourse (process of understanding, reasoning, and thought expressed through dialogue and conversations), texts, and media. The intent is to expose deep-seated contradictions, biases, and ideologies and to identify the underlying values shaping the discourse. Hurd (1998) explained that deconstructionism is the practice of identifying power-loaded binaries (two alternatives) and restructuring them so that conscious focus can be placed upon the marginalized or unprivileged. This way, socially and politically loaded notions are exposed (e.g., black/white, rich/poor, male/female) (see also MacCleave, 1995).

Examining Selected Aspects of Deconstructive Postmodernism and Home Economics

Over time, home economists embraced some tenets of deconstructive postmodernism and rejected others. We rejected the idea that society has no order, that ethics can be denied, and that there is no place for communicative rationality. In varying degrees, we accepted relativism (unfortunately), pluralism, and complexity. Admittedly, other aspects of deconstructive postmodernism could have been selected for discussion in this paper, including its disdain for the metanarrative and its antitheoretical stance (MacCleave, 1995). Still, the ideas developed in this paper do serve to illustrate both the import of postmodernism on home economics philosophy and practice and the degrees to which the profession has engaged with this intellectual movement.

Social Order and Family Unit

Modernism holds that societies function best if they are ordered and based upon universal principles, including rationality; not surprisingly, postmodernism holds that society is not coherent, is not ordered, and is not integrated by any principles (Klages, 2001; Rohmann, 1999). In fact, postmodernism does not accept that there are universal, unifying principles, favouring instead concrete experiences that are fallible and relative. Postmodernism posits that society gains shape and meaning from more or less random, directionless flux across all sectors (Baldwin, 2002; Kumar, 1995). Flux is Latin fluxus, to flow, referring to continuous change, always moving and shifting direction. Postmodernism assumes that the philosophical study of the nature of being (reality) abstains from order and favours chaos and disorder (order emerging); that is, reality is in flux.

Home economics practitioners do not accept the postmodern notion that there is no coherence in society—that there is nothing that holds things together. Instead, we fully believe that individuals and families hold society together and vice-versa. Modernism privileged the idea of the family as the central unit of social order, preferring the middle-class, nuclear family, and heterosexual norms (Irvine, 2013). For many years now, home economics has embraced the postmodern notion of family, including alternative family forms, alternatives to the middle class, alternatives to marriage, diverse notions of sexuality, and an array of approaches to child rearing.

It goes without saying that, even though we may not have actually said it, home economists have created our own postmodern take on the relationship between family and society, a blend of emergent order and dynamic coherence. Every home economist in the world likely agrees that contemporary families have to learn to adapt to a changing society and the circumstances around them (and our role as a profession is to help them in this process). Families face diversity, changing gender roles, and changing relationships among family members. Families are no longer clear entities because different people are included at different times, even in different locales—witness the new trend of transnational families (Janhonen-Abruquah, 2012). Contemporary families face different work and care-giving arrangements in changing labour markets. They live in a consumer, technological, globalized society that is rife with disillusionment and alienation. Family demographics are changing (more single parents, blended arrangements, childless couples). The list of changes experienced by postmodern families goes on and on (Stacey, 1996; Zeitlin et al., 1995), and home economists have had to keep up with this punishing pace. We could not have done so had we acquiesced to the postmodern tenet that nothing holds society together.

As an example of this tenet in daily practice, modernity would guide marriage and family counsellors to help families recover the characteristics of a traditional family—mom, pop, and kids with society's absolute norms, whereas postmodernism would guide the therapist to listen without judgment and help individuals determine their own future by setting standards and goals that demonstrate their own values and beliefs.   

Communal Ethics

Postmodernism excludes the possibility of a focus on ethics, arguing that if there is no universal moral reality that pertains to everyone, why should we concern ourselves with ethical issues (Rorty, 1999)? Postmodernism especially denies communal ethics (Baldwin, 2002), assuming instead that community moral standards are not universal but believed to be constructed within societies. It holds that every culture has its own set of moral standards arising from the various influences within each particular group (coercion and consensus). Moreover, community morality is presumed not to be stagnant; it changes, adapts, and is constantly evolving according to the dictates of the group (Rorty, 1999).

Although postmodernism eschews communal ethics, the notion does exist. Communal ethics is anchored in the interests of the community, and it values the group more so than individuals' interests and values. Communal ethics is based upon the assumption that individuals are members of a social community; hence, ethics is best understood in relation to other community members. Communal ethics puts the interests of the community before individuals because humans are by nature personal and communal; therefore, ethics must deal with human communality (Brown, 1989; Loewy, 1993; Nagel, 2009; Nanley, 2011).

Home economics has long ignored the postmodern tenet of no focus on ethics. Even the name chosen for the profession in 1908 was selected in "acknowledgement of the economic and ethical" lines of thought informing the creation of the profession (Brown, 1985, p. 246). More than 100 years later, community is now a focus of the profession (albeit not communal ethics, per se). For example, the current Body of Knowledge of the American professional association contains a "Focus on community: Even though global forces impact what happens with individuals and families, communities foster a sense of belonging and provide 'high touch' environments that support well-being" (Baugher et al., 2003). This approach could be construed as supporting communal ethics, whereby the community is put before its members for the good of the members—something to ponder.

Indeed, Fusa (2004), the author of a Japanese philosophy of home economics, identified community as central to the profession, conceiving community as a protective anchor for individuals and families. She explained that community could supplement the protective nature of the home to better ensure the emergence of humanity in individuals, even a new type of human being with autonomy, spontaneity, and solidarity. Could this be a form of communal ethics? Granted, although no evidence of communal ethics in home economics was found in the home economics literature, it would seem a natural next step.

If home economists were to actually embrace the tenet of communal ethics, they would have to rethink their understanding of the common slogan, individuals, families, and communities. They would privilege the community because it supports individuals and families. Rather than focusing on strengthening individuals and families, home economists would have to consider strengthening the community first, making it resilient. This might entail focusing on community-based research; building strong networks among community members, academic researchers, policymakers, and service providers so as to address community priorities; and enhancing the research capacity of community-based organizations.

Communicative Rationality

Postmodernism excludes the possibility of a focus on communicative rationality because postmodernism favours using language and discourse to understand differences rather than rational thought  (Baldwin, 2002; Richards, 2000). Also, communicative rationality is the "central plank of critical theory" (Powell, 2002, p. 2), and postmodernism eschews theory (Baldwin, 2002). Rationality means exercising reason before taking any concrete action. Communicative rationality refers to using communication during the process of reasoning, especially by clarifying the norms and procedures by which people can come to agreement on something (Habermas, 1984). This process entails argumentation (providing and examining reasons for and against particular claims), which ideally occurs in communities (Brown, 1993). Excluding communicative rationality is one tenet of postmodernism that some home economics practitioners have soundly rejected, the most vocal being Marjorie Brown (1993).

In her discussion of how American home economists philosophically understand themselves, Brown (1993) drew heavily on Habermas' (1984) concept of communicative rationality. Habermas believed that while knowledge of the external world is dependent upon a person's own concepts created/employed as she or he experiences the world, that same internal knowledge must be submitted to validation by others, using appropriate standards of reason and evidence. By extension, Brown believed "that home economists (by whatever name) are potentially capable of using reason and evidence to validate beliefs, concepts, and values they hold about home economics" (1993, p. 5).

Home economists Brown and Paolucci (1979) also drew heavily on Habermas' (1984) communicative rationality concept to create their idea of three systems of actions. The latter approach helps home economists broach the normative, ethical, and moral issue of "How should I live? What is the good life?" The three actions (ways of thinking) in their system include technical (how to), interpretative (meaning and significance), and critical (power and agency). In addition, they used Habermas' (1984) idea of moral-practical reason to conceptualize three home economics concepts: practical reasoning, perennial problem solving, and values reasoning. McGregor (2014a) provided a detailed account of their approach.

Put simply, if home economists had not embraced the idea of communicative rationality (understood to mean communication amongst people so they can plan, participate, learn, and reconcile different ways of understanding things), the profession would not have been able to value communication, dialogue, deliberation, and joint problem solving as main approaches to its practice. These processes are hallmarks of home economics practice. 


Tied to the idea of communicative rationality is postmodernism's penchant for relativism; that is, one perspective of something is as good as anyone else's (everything is relative). Relativism holds that reality, knowledge, and values are constructed by discourse (conversations, discussions, communications). There is no universal truth; that is, there is no one truth or point of view expressed in these discourses that has greater purchase than any alternative perspective (Duignan, 2014). Instead, there are multiple truths, with uncertain meanings of things, and these meanings are constantly changing. This loose notion of truth is further compromised by postmodernism's denial of the importance of guiding principles; rather, the focus is on the local, the particular, the context, and the contingent (everything is relative to the context; meanings only hold in the particular context) (MacCleave, 1995). "'Anything goes' . . . since all views are placed beyond criticism" (Brown, 1993, p. 431).

Brown (1993, p. 437) argued that a "relativistic attitude in home economics can be found." As evidence, she cited the profession's uncritical buy-in for such home economics basics as systems theory, the ecological model, consumerism, and the decision-making model. Falling prey to relativism (i.e., being pushed and pulled by trends, fads, and fashions in ideas and theories) is evidence that home economists did not engage in critical reflection and did not sort through or rationally examine the array of opinions and ideas often expressed by home economists. Kline (1997, p. 251) characterized home economists as "agents of an inevitable social force, modernity," guilty of advocating technological advances without critically analyzing alternatives. Brown (1993) especially faulted our unexamined use of family, well-being, and quality of life, alleged anchors of the profession. "In the failure to agree rationally on such basic [concepts], home economists' claim to be concerned with the 'quality' of human life is empty of meaning" (p. 436).

If we want to overcome this postmodernist trap, home economists must be willing to comprehend, identify, and critically judge the merits or flaws in alternative views of any phenomenon in question, be that concepts, principles, theories, or values. We can no longer assume that one perspective is as good as another. In a blunt statement, Brown (1993) claimed that "the blind or timid acceptance of one theory . . . as being as good as another earns the accusation of [home economists] being both conceptually incompetent and politically naive and indifferent to human welfare" (p. 438). By moving beyond taking things for granted, home economists would no longer fall prey to relativism (one thing is just as good as another); instead, we would critically examine all ideas for their merit in practice. Hultgren (1990), another home economist, agreed, claiming that a critical stance can heighten awareness of ambiguities and contradictions and open the way for new insights (see also MacCleave, 1995).


Postmodernism endorses pluralism in the sense that reality is considered to be multiple and dynamic rather than singular and static (Baldwin, 2002; MacCleave, 1995). Harken back to the discussion of the changing nature of family to extend beyond the narrow definition tendered by modernism. Pluralism is "a condition of society in which numerous distinct ethnic, religious, or cultural groups coexist within a nation. It also means that reality is made of many ultimate substances. And, it is also the belief that no single explanatory system or view of reality can account for all the phenomenon [sic] of life" (Ali, 1998, p.2). By embracing pluralism, home economists would attempt to resolve conflicting beliefs and values about the realities of everyday life and gain shared meanings, appreciating the diversity inherent in humanity (Brown, 1993).

Respecting the principle of pluralism (i.e., there are multiple realities in constant flux), McGregor (2006, 2011a,b) suggested that the profession should embrace transdisciplinarity as espoused by Basarab Nicolescu (2002, 2011). Nicolescuian transdisciplinarity holds that there are Multiple Levels of Reality (e.g., physical, social, political, economic, ecological, spiritual, et cetera). Movement among these realities (i.e., people being able to talk with and listen to each other) is mediated (lubricated) by what he calls the Hidden Third. This mediator, or hidden agent, manifests when diverse actors with divergent perspectives, yet keen interests in addressing complex problems, come together. They use inclusive logic (the lubricant), which assumes that things normally seen as antagonistic or contradictory can temporarily be reconciled to create new insights and knowledge. This new knowledge reflects the pluralistic integration of multiple world views.

Indeed, within the postmodern tenet of pluralism, eclectic thinking, which draws on and synthesizes multiple cultural traditions, perspectives, theories, and accounts of phenomena, is encouraged; each is respected and needed to solve complex problems (Rohmann, 1999; Wonacott, 2001). Smith and de Zwart (2010) asserted that the home economics profession does acknowledge postmodern plurality (and rightly so, given the inequities in the world). McGregor (2006, 2011a,b) proposed transdisciplinarity as a way to augment our existing respect for plurality. If we were to use transdisciplinarity, we would appreciate that as many perspectives as possible are necessary to solve the problems faced by families and humanity. We would value inclusive logic because it helps us accept that things seemingly incompatible can temporarily be reconciled so as to gain deeper and richer insights into human problems. We would respect the complexity of life and accept that we need many voices, on many levels, to deal with the issues faced by today's families. 


Richards (1998), another home economist, posited that complexity thinking characterizes postmodernism and should be on our radar as we figure out how to move beyond modernism and understand the import of postmodernism. Indeed, modernism is the antithesis of complexity, which means difficult to understand because of interconnected systems of parts. Modernism is couched in the scientific method and privileges rigid control, clear beginnings, predictable endings, and step-by-step or sequential problem solving. It depends upon power, order, stability, predictability, and linear causality. Modernism's penchant for organizing, categorizing, and specializing (reductionism) goes hand-in-hand with mastery, technological progress, and dualism (binary cause and effect). Modernism is the genesis of materialism and consumerism, fuelled by capitalism, neoliberalism, and corporate-led globalization (McGregor, 2006; Pendergast, 2001; Richards, 1998, 2000).

Pendergast (2001, p. 70) referred to the world's "increasing disenchantment with modernity." She linked this disenchantment to the increasing complexity of the world (e.g., alienation, decay, ecological consequences, global inequality, and war). Richards (2000) argued that society's problems have become so complex that modernist thinking should no longer serve as the profession's foundation. To that end, McGregor (2006, 2010, 2014b) appealed to the home economics profession to consider the merit of drawing on complexity thinking and integral thinking as opposed to absolute truth, doctrines, standards, and boundaries in modernism. Complexity and integral thinking respect chaos, webs of relationships, emergence, uncertainty and tensions, patterns, embeddedness, and different kinds of order (especially implicate and explicate order). They respect wholeness, embodiment, integration of a diversity of perspectives, and inclusiveness.

Smith (1991) described postBrown home economics as being "built on a vision of complexity, uncertainty, and value conflicts" (p. 14), rather than preBrown technocratic rationality, control, and efficiency. Interestingly, Nickols (2006) believed that home economists' ability to deal with complexity is a strength that should be celebrated; McGregor (2014a) suggested that home economics still remains integrated in its approach but is in a position to embrace integral thinking and complexity thinking. "Dealing with complexity" and "complexity thinking" are not the same thing; home economists must deal with complexity by using complexity thinking.

In practice, for example, if we embraced postmodernism, we would no longer privilege specializations within the home economics discipline because that is a hangover from modernism. Postmodernism would have us reorganize our discipline so that practitioners learned how to recognize and deal with complex and integral scenarios facing families, and better yet the human condition. No longer would we learn just content and subject-specific knowledge. Instead, we would learn how to think; how to problematize; how to reconcile intellectual and perspective differences; and how to learn, lead, and grow together. 

Discussion and Conclusion

This paper chose six tenets of deconstructive postmodernism as a way to appeal to home economists to continue to explore the power this intellectual movement has on our practice: social order and the family unit, communal ethics, communicative rationality, relativism, pluralism, and complexity. For indeed, whether appreciated or not, the profession has been influenced by postmodernism. Pendergast (2001) went so far as to call for a shift within home economics away from modernism toward postmodernism. Her stance reflected her dissatisfaction with how modernist thinking has sidelined, marginalized, and delegitimized the home economics profession. She argued that postmodernism pushes home economists to "look beyond the dominant assumptions of the field" (p. 119) so that we can uncover and reveal any discontinuities (gaps) in our practice, i.e., find interruptions in our normal way of doing things.

The analysis shared in this paper has revealed that our normal way of doing things has been influenced both by modernism and postmodernism. We value family as a social institution, yet we embrace relativity—meaning we sometimes fail to critically evaluate the world in which families live. We value plurality, but have yet to totally embrace complexity thinking (which is not the same thing as dealing with complexity). Brown and Paolucci (1979) urged us to employ the three systems of actions, values reasoning, and practical perennial problem solving approaches, but these practices are not yet employed profession-wide. McGregor (2006, 2011a,b) advocated for transdisciplinarity; yet we still present ourselves as interdisciplinary. We have yet to begin a discourse on communal ethics within the profession. These are examples of discontinuities and contradictions in our practice, shaped by being mired in modernism while climbing the steep learning curve of postmodernism.

MacCleave (1995) explained that home economists should view ambiguities, discontinuities, and contradictions in practice as potential sources of insight or knowledge (not something to avoid) that can be used to philosophically grow the profession. Brown (1993) concurred, offering the following sentiment: ". . . that which is rationally justifiable in home economics can be preserved and that which is not can be rejected . . . [thereby better ensuring the] restructuring of home economics" (p. 3). Grappling with the fundamental nuances of postmodernism is an integral part of philosophically growing the profession. Respecting and augmenting the emergent discourse in the home economics literature around the postmodern intellectual movement is a necessary philosophical stance as we move forward into the 21st century.



Ali, S. H. (1998, April). Islam and pluralism. Seminar keynote delivered at the University of Chicago. Retrieved from the International Strategy and Policy Institute website:

Aylesworth, G. (2013). Postmodernism. In E. N. Zalta (Ed.), Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Stanford, CA: Stanford University. Retrieved from 

Baldwin, E. E. (2002). Modernity, postmodernity and family and consumer sciences. Kappa Omicron Nu FORUM, 13(2),

Baugher, S., Anderson, C., Green, K., Shane, J., Jolly, L., Miles, J., & Nickols, S. Y. (2003). The Body of Knowledge. Alexandria, VA: AAFCS. Retrieved from

Benn, J. (2009). Practical wisdom, understanding of coherence and competencies for everyday life. International Journal of Home Economics, 2(1), 2-14.

Brown, M. (1989). Ethics in organizations. Issues in Ethics, 2(1). Retrieved from

Brown, M. M. (1985). Philosophical studies of home economics in the United States: Our practical-intellectual heritage, Volume 1. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University.

Brown, M. M. (1993). Philosophical studies of home economics in the United States: Basic ideas by which home economists understand themselves. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University.

Brown, M. M., & Baldwin, E. (1995). The concept of theory in home economics. East Lansing, MI: Kappa Omicron Nu.

Brown, M. M., & Paolucci, B. (1979). Home economics: A definition [mimeographed]. Alexandria, VA: American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences

Cheeryholmes, C. H. (1994). Pragmatism, poststructuralism, and theorizing. Curriculum Inquiry, 24(2), 193-213.

Duignan, B. (2014). Postmodernism. In Britannica Online Encyclopedia. Retrieved from

Grenz, S.(1995). A primer on postmodernism. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.

Gur-Zéev, H. (2010). Beyond peace education: Toward co-poiesis and enduring improvisation. Policy Futures in Education, 8(3/4), 315-339.

Habermas, J. (1984). The theory of communicative action (T. McCarthy, Trans). Boston, MA: Beacon Press.

Holland, N. (2008). Deconstruction. In J. Fieser & B. Dowden (Eds.), Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Martin, TN: University of Tennessee Martin. Retrieved from

Hultgren, F. H. (1990). Phenomenology: The pursuit of meaning in everyday life. Kappa Omicron Nu FORUM, 4(2), 14-17.

Hurd, R. W. (1998). Postmodernism. Retrieved from Gutenberg College, MacKenzie Study Center website:

Irvine, M. (2013). The postmodern, postmodernism, postmodernity: Approaches to Po-Mo. Retrieved from Georgetown University website,

Janhonen-Abruquah, H. (2012). Everyday life of families in the global world. In Pendergast, D., McGregor, S. L. T., & Turkki, K. (Eds.), Creating Home Economics Futures: The Next 100 Years (pp. 132-142). Queensland, Australia: Australian Academic Press.

Klages, M. (2001). Postmodernism. Retrieved from University of Idaho website:

Kline, R. (1997). Agents of modernity: Home economists and rural electrification, 1925-1950. In S. Stage & V. Vincenti (Eds.), Rethinking home economics (pp. 237-252). Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

Kors, A, C. (2003). Encyclopedia of the enlightenment. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.

Kumar, K. (1995). From post-industrial to post-modern society. Oxford, England: Blackwell.

Loewy, E. (1993). Freedom and community. Albany, NY: SUNY Press.

Lyotard, J-F. (1979). The postmodern condition. Paris, France: Les Éditions de Minuit.

MacCleave, A. (1995). Voices from the opposite end of the theoretical spectrum: A response to Brown & Baldwin's paper, The concept of theory in home economics. In M. M. Brown & E. Baldwin, The concept of theory in home economics (pp. 51-65). East Lansing, MI: Kappa Omicron Nu.

McGregor, S. L. T. (2006). Transformative practice. East Lansing, MI: Kappa Omicron Nu.

McGregor, S. L. T. (2010). Integral leadership and practice: Beyond holistic integration in FCS. Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences, 102(1), 49-57.

McGregor, S. L. T. (2011a). Knowledge generation in home economics using transdisciplinary methodology. Kappa Omicron Nu FORUM, 16(2),

McGregor, S. L. T. (2011b). Transdisciplinary methodology in home economics. International Journal of Home Economics, 4(2), 104-122.

McGregor, S. L. T. (2014a). Marjorie Brown's philosophical legacy: Contemporary relevance. Kappa Omicron Nu FORUM, 19(1)

McGregor, S. L. T. (2014b). The promise of integral-informed FCS practice. Journal of Family & Consumer Sciences, 106(1), 8-14.

Nagel, T. (Ed.). (2009). John Rawls: A brief history into the meaning of sin and faith. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press.

Nanley, V. L. (2011). Keep it shushed. Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press.

Nicolescu, B. (2002). Manifesto of transdisciplinarity [K-C. Voss, Trans.]. New York, NY: SUNY.

Nicolescu, B. (2011). Methodology of transdisciplinarity-Levels of reality, logic of the included middle and complexity. In A. Ertas (Ed.), Transdisciplinarity: Bridging science, social sciences, humanities and engineering (pp. 22-45). Austin, TX: TheAtlas Publishing.

Nickols, S. Y. (2006). Lessons for the future. In A-L, Rauma, S. Pöllänen & P. Seitamaa-Hakkarainen (Eds.), Human perspectives on sustainable future (Research Report No 99) (pp. 361-368). Joensuu, Finland: University of Joensuu, Faculty of Education.

Oord, T. J. (2001). Postmodernism - What is it? Diadache: Faithful Teaching, 1(2). Retrieved from

Pendergast, D. (2001). Virginal mothers, groovy chicks & blokey blokes: Re-thinking home economics (and) teaching bodies. Sydney, Australia: Australian Academic Press.            

Powell, J. L. (2002). Understanding Habermas: Modern solutions, postmodern problems. SincronRa, 7(22),

Richards, M. V. (1998). The evolution of the profession: From home economics to family and consumer sciences (Doctoral dissertation, University of South Carolina). Retrieved from 

Richards, M. V. (2000). The postmodern perspective on home economics history. Journal of Family & Consumer Sciences, 92(1), 81-84.

Rohmann, V. (1999). A world of ideas: A dictionary of important theories, concepts, beliefs, and thinkers. New York, NY: Ballantine Books.

Rorty, R. (1999). Philosophy and social hope. New York, NY: Penguin.

Smith, G. (1991). Home economics as a practical art. THESA Newsletter, 32(1), 13-15.

Smith, G., & de Zwart, M. (2010). Home economics: A contextual study of the subject and home economics teacher education. Vancouver, BC: British Columbia Teacher Federation, Teachers of Home Economics Specialist Association. Retrieved from

Stacey, J. (1996). In the name of family. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.

Vermeulen, T., & van den Akker, R. (2010). Notes on metamodernism. Journal of Aesthetics and Culture, 2, 1-14.

Wonacott, M. E. (2001). Postmodernism: Yes, no or maybe? Myths and Realities,15. Retrieved from

Zeitlin, M., Megawangi, R., Kramer, E., Colletta, N., Babatunde, E., & Garman, D. (1995). Strengthening the family. New York, NY: United Nations University Press.



1. The author is only recently aware of post-postmodernism (aka metamodernism), a topic not included in this paper. Vermeulen and van den Akker (2010) explained that metamodernism is based on Plato's metaxy, which denotes movement between opposite poles, in this case modernism and postmodernism. They argued that such an approach is needed to respond to such wicked problems as climate change, the global financial crisis, the digital revolution, global political instability, and global health pandemics.



Kappa Omicron Nu Forum Volume 19 No. 1

Home Economics Philosophy in Latvia: An Exploratory Study

Sue L. T. McGregor, Mount Saint Vincent University

Vija Dišlere, Latvia University of Agriculture

Everyday Life: A Home Economics Concept

Sue L. T. McGregor, Mount Saint Vincent University

The Role of Philosophy in Home Economics

Sue L. T. McGregor, Mount Saint Vincent University

Marjorie Brown's Philosophical Legacy: Contemporary Relevance

Sue L. T. McGregor, Mount Saint Vincent University

Abductive Reasoning in Everyday Life: Implications for Home Economics

Sue L. T. McGregor, Mount Saint Vincent University

Enriching Home Economics Philosophy with Phenomenological Insights:

Aesthetic Experiences, Bodily Being, and Enfolded Everyday Life

Henna Heinilä

Postmodernism and Home Economics: Revitalizing the Conversation

Sue L. T. McGregor, Mount Saint Vincent University

History and Potential of Home Economics in the People's Republic of China:
Implications for Philosophy of Practice

Peng Chen PhD, Higher Vocational Education College, China Women's University

Existentialism and Home Economics

Sue L. T. McGregor, Mount Saint Vincent University

Can Home Economics Practice be Informed by Bakhtinian Themes?

Dr. Mary Gale Smith

Conceptualizing Home and Household

Sue L. T. McGregor, Mount Saint Vincent University