Foucauldian discourse analysis

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Foucauldian discourse analysis is a form of discourse analysis, focusing on power relationships in society as expressed through language and practices, and based on the theories of Michel Foucault.

Theory[edit]

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.[1][2] The method analyzes how the social world, expressed through language, is affected by various sources of power.[1] As such, 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.[1][2] The analysis attempts to understand how individuals view the world, and studies categorizations, personal and institutional relationships, ideology, and politics.[3]

The approach was inspired by the work of both Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida, and by psychoanalysis and critical theory.[3]

Foucauldian discourse analysis, like much of critical theory, is often used in politically oriented studies. It is preferred by scholars who criticize more traditional forms of discourse analysis as failing to account for the political implications of discourse.[4]

Process[edit]

Kendall and Wickham outline five steps in using "Foucauldian discourse analysis". 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.[5]

Areas of study[edit]

Studies employing the Foucauldian discourse analysis may for example look at how figures in authority use language to express their dominance, and request obedience and respect from those subordinate to them. In a specific example, a study may look at the language used by teachers towards students, or military officers towards conscripts. This approach could also be used to study how language is used as a form of resistance to those in power.[1]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Lisa M. Given (2008). The Sage encyclopedia of qualitative research methods. SAGE. p. 249. ISBN 978-1-4129-4163-1. Retrieved 22 February 2012. 
  2. ^ a b Rodrigo Magalhães; Ron Sanchez (2 November 2009). Autopoiesis in organization theory and practice. Emerald Group Publishing. p. 152. ISBN 978-1-84855-832-8. Retrieved 22 February 2012. 
  3. ^ a b Robin Wooffitt (23 April 2005). Conversation analysis and discourse analysis: a comparative and critical introduction. SAGE. p. 146. ISBN 978-0-7619-7426-0. Retrieved 22 February 2012. 
  4. ^ Robin Wooffitt (23 April 2005). Conversation analysis and discourse analysis: a comparative and critical introduction. SAGE. p. 147. ISBN 978-0-7619-7426-0. Retrieved 22 February 2012. 
  5. ^ Gavin Kendall; Gary Wickham (8 February 1999). Using Foucault's methods. SAGE. p. 42. ISBN 978-0-7619-5717-1. Retrieved 22 February 2012. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Mills, Sara. "Discourse: The new critical idiom." Series Editor: John Drakakis, Routledge (1997).