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Problems with the critical posture? Foucault and critical discourse analysis

Kendall, G. and Wickham, G. (2006) Problems with the critical posture? Foucault and critical discourse analysis. In: Social Change in the 21st Century Conference, 27 October, Brisbane, Queensland



This paper provides a brief analysis of Michel Foucault’s work on power and governmentality, and mounts the argument that the treatment of these concepts by Foucault is theoretical rather than empirical or historical. Foucault’s approach – a Kantian dialectical approach – allows the social to engulf politics, sovereignty and the state. Ultimately, Foucault follows a Kantian line to a moral critique of society. Given this critical edge to Foucault’s work, it is not surprising that endeavours such as critical discourse analysis use Foucault’s work to ballast their approach. Like Bruno Latour, however, we suspect that the fascination with social and moral critique is exhausted; and we suspect that the commitment to critique masks the understanding of the critic as an historically specific persona, and disallows – on moral grounds – non-teleological descriptive analyses. Rather than critique critique, however – and risk being hoist by our own petard – our purpose here is an exploration of those who adopt the critical persona

Item Type: Conference Paper
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Social Sciences and Humanities
Publisher: Centre for Social Change Research Queensland University of Technology
Notes: In: C. Hopkinson and C. Hall (eds) Social Change in the 21st Century. Brisbane: Queensland University of Technology
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