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Foucauldian discourse analysis.

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Foucault, CDA.

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Foucauldian discourse analysis.

  1. 1. What is critical discourse analysis. In CDA, the notion of ‘critical’ is primarily applied to the engagement with power relations associated with the Frankfurt School of critical theory. In this, it argues against a realist, neutral and rationalist view of the world. Instead the role is to uncloak the hidden power relations, largely constructed through language, and to demonstrate and challenge social inequities reinforced and reproduced. Discourse is a contested and contestable term. James Gee (1990) uses the term discourse (with a small ‘d’ to talk about language in use, or the way language is used in a social context to ‘enact’ activities and identities. His work is influenced by Michel Foucault. In terms of analysis, CDA takes the view that texts need to be consider in terms of what they include but also what they omit – alternative ways of constructing and defining the world. The critical discourse analyst’s job is not to simply read political and social ideologies onto a text but to consider the myriad ways in which a text could have been written and what these alternatives imply for ways of representing the world, understanding the world and the social actions that are determined by these ways of thinking and being.
  2. 2. Is based on the theories of Michel Foucault. Is a form of discourse analysis, focusing on power relationships in society as expressed through language and practices.
  3. 3.  Besides focusing on the meaning of a given discourse, the distinguishing characteristic of this approach is its stress on power relationships.  These are expressed through language and behavior, and the relationship between language and power.  The method analyzes how the social world, expressed through language, is affected by various sources of power.  This approach is close to social constructivism, as the researcher tries to understand how our society is being shaped (or constructed) by language, which in turn reflects existing power relationships.  The analysis attempts to understand how individuals view the world, and studies categorizations, personal and institutional relationships, ideology, and politics
  4. 4. The first step is a simple recognition that discourse is a body of statements that are organized in a regular and systematic way. The subsequent four steps are based on the identification of rules on: How those statements are created. What can be said (written) and what cannot. How spaces in which new statements can be made are created. Making practices material and discursive at the same time. Kendall and Wickham outline five steps in using "Foucauldian discourse analysis".
  5. 5. A Foucauldian notion of discourse holds that: •discourse is a culturally constructed representation of reality, not an exact copy •discourse constructs knowledge and thus governs, through the production of categories of knowledge and assemblages of texts, what it is possible to talk about and what is not (the taken for granted rules of inclusion/exclusion). As such, it re/produces both power and knowledge simultaneously •discourse defines subjects framing and positioning who it is possible to be and what it is possible to do •power circulates throughout society and, while hierarchised, is not simply a top-down phenomenon •it is possible to examine regimes of power through the historicised deconstruction of systems or regimes of meaning-making constructed in and as discourse, that is to see how and why some categories of thinking and lines of argument have come to be generally taken as truths while other ways of thinking/being/doing are marginalised.
  6. 6. There are of course a range of critiques of this social theory – how much it denies material reality, whether it disallows agency, whether anything precedes discourse and so on…
  7. 7. Turning this way of understanding discourse into method to apply to textual analysis means asking of the text or texts questions such as:
  8. 8. •What is being represented here as a truth or as a norm? •How is this constructed? What ‘evidence’ is used? What is left out? •What is fore grounded and back grounded? What is made problematic and what is not? What alternative meanings/explanations are ignored? • What is kept apart and what is joined together? •What interests are being mobilized and served by this and what are not? •How has this come to be? •What identities, actions, practices are made possible and /or desirable and/or required by this way of thinking/talking/understanding? What are disallowed? What is normalized and what is pathologised?
  9. 9. A DIVE INTO FOUCAULT’S DISCOURSE.
  10. 10. Ways of constituting knowledge, together with the social practices, forms of subjectivity and power relations. Discourses are more than ways of thinking and producing meaning. They constitute the 'nature' of the body, unconscious and conscious mind and emotional life of the subjects they seek to govern (Weedon, 1987, p. 108). ... a form of power that circulates in the social field and can attach to strategies of domination as well as those of resistance ( Diamond and Quinby, 1988, p. 185).
  11. 11.  Foucault's work is imbued with an attention to history.  Not in the traditional sense of the word but in attending to what he has variously termed the 'archaeology'( studying human history) or 'genealogy' (studying family history) of knowledge production.  That is, he looks at the continuities and discontinuities between “epistemes” (taken by Foucault to mean the knowledge systems which primarily informed the thinking during certain periods of history: a different one being said to dominate each epistemological age), and the social context in which certain knowledges and practices emerged as permissible and desirable or changed.  In his view knowledge is inextricably( can’t untie or separate) connected to power, such that they are often written as power/knowledge.
  12. 12. Lots of attention given to History of knowledge. Not in traditio nal sense. Termed it as Archaeology n Genealogy Looks at the continuities and discontinuities between “epistemes”. N Social context, which makes certain knowledges n practices Permissible, desirable n changed. KNOWLEDGE POWER
  13. 13.  Foucault's conceptual analysis of a major shift in (western) cultural practices, from 'sovereign power' to 'disciplinary power', is a good example of his method of genealogy.  sovereign power: Sovereign power involves obedience to the law of the king or central authority figure. Foucault argues that 'disciplinary power' gradually took over from 'sovereign power' in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Even now, however, remnants of sovereign power still remain in tension with disciplinary power.  Disciplinary power:  Discipline is a mechanism of power which regulates the behavior of individuals in the social body. This is done by regulating the organization of space (architecture etc.), of time (timetables) and people's activity and behavior (drills, posture, movement). It is enforced with the aid of complex systems of surveillance. Foucault emphasizes that power is not discipline, rather discipline is simply one way in which power can be exercised. He also uses the term 'disciplinary society', discussing its history and the origins and disciplinary institutions such as prisons, hospitals, asylums, schools and army barracks. Foucault also specifies that when he speaks of a 'disciplinary society' he does not mean a 'disciplined society'.
  14. 14. Panopticon, panopticism and surveillance: The Panopticon, was a design for a prison produced by Jeremy Bentham in the late eighteenth century which grouped cells around a central viewing tower. Although the prison was never actually built the idea was used as a model for numerous institutions including some prisons. Foucault uses this as a metaphor for the operation of power and surveillance in contemporary society.
  15. 15. Power . Foucault argues a number of points in relation to power and offers definitions that are directly opposed to more traditional liberal and Marxist theories of power. definitions power is not a thing but a relation power is not simply repressive but it is productive power is not simply a property of the State. Power is not something that is exclusively localized in government and the State (which is not a universal essence). Rather, power is exercised throughout the social body. power operates at the most micro levels of social relations. Power is omnipresent at every level of the social body. the exercise of power is strategic and war-like.
  16. 16.  …as part of his attempt to understand the relationship between language, social institutions, subjectivity and power. Discursive fields, such as the law or the family, contain a number of competing and contradictory discourses with varying degrees of power to give meaning to and organize social institutions and processes. They also 'offer' a range of modes of subjectivity (Weedon, 1987, p. 35). It follows then that, if relations of power are dispersed and fragmented throughout the social field, so must resistance to power be (Diamond & Quinby, 1988, p. 185).
  17. 17.  Foucault argues though, in The Order of Discourse, that the 'will to truth' is the major system of exclusion that forges discourse and which 'tends to exert a sort of pressure and something like a power of constraint on other discourses', and goes on further to ask the question 'what is at stake in the will to truth, in the will to utter this 'true' discourse, if not desire and power?' (1970, cited in Shapiro 1984, p. 113-4).  Thus, there are both discourses that constrain the production of knowledge, dissent and difference and some that enable 'new' knowledges and difference(s). The questions that arise, are to do with how some discourses maintain their authority, how some 'voices' get heard whilst others are silenced, who benefits and how - that is, questions addressing issues of power/ empowerment/ disempowerment.
  18. 18. THANKS.

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