Discourse analysis

French social theorist/philosopher Michel Foucault developed a notion of discourse in his early work, particularly in his influential 1972 text the Archaeology of Knowledge. Lessa (2006) proposes that Foucault’s theorizing around the power of discourses emphasizes how they are implicated in the constitution of current truths, how they are maintained in societies, and what power relations they carry with them (p. 285). After Foucault, she refers to discourses as “systems of thoughts composed of ideas, attitudes, courses of actions, beliefs and practices that systematically construct the subjects and the worlds of which they speak” (p. 285). Furthermore, whilst some theorists propose different approaches to discourse analysis, they all start from the broadly accepted recognition that discursive power is what happens at the interactional level; that “language, the medium of interaction, creation and dissemination of discourses, is deeply implicated in the creation of regimes of truth, i.e. they explore ways in which, through discourses, realities are constructed, made factual and justified, bringing about effects” (Lessa, 2006, pp. 285-286).

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