What makes Statement Archaeology different to other approaches to Critical Discourse Analysis?

The term Statement Archaeology was originally inspired by the term Policy Archaeology, coined by James Joseph Scheurich in his 1994 paper ‘Policy Archaeology: a new policy studies method’.10 There Scheurich emphasized his interaction with Foucault, rather than Foucault’s work itself stating that ‘while I openly acknowledge my significant debt to Foucault, I do not want to be captured by his work; I do not want to be held in thrall, as I have sometimes been, by the formidable power of his social theory’.11 This distancing from Foucault is evident throughout Scheurich’s paper, but is explicit at particular points, for example, where he paraphrases—rather than cites— Foucault. In doing so, he interpolates his terms into Foucault’s narrative, consequently changing the meaning.12 Thus, the issue of fidelity to Foucault has been central to the development of Statement Archaeology.

Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) is a group of approaches that has emerged from the theoretical background of post-structuralism, that is particularly developed through the work of Norman Fairclough, Ruth Wodak, and Teun Van Dijk; it is generally described as ''informed by Foucault',13 Setting out to synthesize different forms of analysis in order to better understand ideologies and power dynamics involved in discourse(s), CDA centres on the ‘object’ (the text as written or spoken), the ‘processes’ or wider practice of the discourse (how the text was produced, distributed and ‘consumed’, although the whole concept of consumption is contested) and the ‘socio-historical conditions that govern these processes’, which involves a wider analysis of the ‘discursive events as moments of socio-cultural practice’.14

Such approaches have grown in popularity in the social sciences, particularly in educational studies. There is, however, significant discussion over how the methodology should be practised and many debates within the CDA community appear to divorce the approach ever further from its

Foucaultian roots.15 Adele Clarke argues that such ‘shearing off of epistemological and ontological roots ... is the usual means of making a method transportable’.16 This certainly would explain some attempts to apply a ‘Foucaultian’ approach that is divorced from the Foucaultian root; for example, J.P. Gee sets out a detailed and prescriptive framework of 26 questions with which to interrogate the text under scrutiny.17

There are limitations to such an approach which render it unsuitable for the kind of study that focuses on questions of how certain things became possible at particular points in place and time. CDA is often characterized by the detailed analysis of a small selection of texts; in the light of the requirement of Statement Archaeology to follow the statement, however far it might range, such an approach appears inappropriate. Furthermore, behind much of the debate about the operationalization of the theory in CDA is a variety of understandings of objectivity that stand counter to a Foucaultian comprehension of ‘truth’ and a tendency towards the positivistic, both in terms of the certainty of the ‘truth found in the text’ and demands for a precise description of the methodology.18

Some writers are dismissive of the very notion of a ‘Foucaultian methodology’. For example, Allan Megill suggests that there is no such thing, arguing that ‘Foucault’s approach was so “unmethodological” that his only methodological text, The Archaeology of Knowledge was really a spoof’.19 There are many others who do not accept this view but even amongst them, there is a wide variety of responses to Foucault’s methods; in ways that are distinctive—it seems—to Foucault, there tends to be quite polarized and visceral responses to the use of Foucault in historical work.20

The issue of methodological description has been the source of some disagreement across the spectrum of historical enquiry, seen especially in the nature of the response of some historians to the linguistic turn.21 The emergence of post-structural approaches to history has exposed some key issues, including a general reluctance to discuss and debate matters of methodology.22 For example, Philip Gardner suggests that whilst historical enquiry has a strong methodological foundation, the connection between this and contemporary historical research has been lost.23 There is an implicit, and often unacknowledged, tension between ‘a realist epistemology [and] an interpretative methodology’ seen most clearly in the use of the categorical terms ‘truth’ and ‘interpretation’.24 It is at this intersection, Gardner suggests, that we find the necessity of methodological transparency; it is no longer tenable to hold to the status quo, whereby.

the largely untheorized strategic union of interpretation and truth [which] has been and remains a remarkable achievement, somewhat akin to the pragmatic success of an unwritten constitution.25

Transparent methodological description becomes a necessity rather than an option. Thus Gardner calls historians to ‘attend better to their own methodological business. They might pay more attention to clarifying the processes

Applying Statement Archaeology 159 of interpretation rather than simply implementing them’.26 Paul Smcyers and Mare Depaepe suggest a resurgence in methodological interest over the early years of the twenty-first century in the field of the history of education, highlighting particularly the centrality of ‘philosophical reflection and argumentation’, the growth in ‘methodological pluralism’ and the inseparability of ‘the world’ and ‘the language used to describe the world’.27

Taking up this desire for rigorous methodological description is illuminating. In part CDA appears to have developed in the way that it has (that is, informed by Foucault} because Foucault is considered to be methodologically vague. Yet as already stated, a carefi.il reading of Foucault’s The Archaeology of Knowledge or The Order of Things demonstrates that there is a precise and specific method, albeit not prescriptive.28 Linda Graham suggests that many writers end up adopting a Foucaultianistic (as opposed to Foucaultian) position, moving away from Foucault’s principles in order to be methodologically descriptive in a way that is considered to be coherent with a positivistic position. For Graham, the issue is no longer the balance between Foucaultian foundations and positivistic methodological rigour, but the quest for a ‘post-structural respect for uncertainty ... without appearing vague’.29 In part, this fear of appearing vague is rooted in a fear of claiming to be Foucaultian, but being dismissed if‘one doesn’t get it right’.30 For Graham the resolution is ‘not that I dogmatically follow someone else’s model for doing discourse analysis but that I ground my work in careful scholarship and engage in a respectful conversation with Foucault’.31 It is this resolution that has guided the development of Statement Archaeology.

Others have attempted to resolve this same tension. Recognizing that the operationalization of a Foucaultian approach is not straightforward, there are two scholars whose work exemplify possible pathways. The work of Gillian Rose offers some useful insights into how this might be accomplished. Concentrating on the themes of specific meaning, intertextuality and discursive formation, Rose sets out a two-part scaffolding through which texts can be explored in a structured way that appears, at first, quite consistent with Foucault’s own approach as articulated through the guiding principles set out in Chapter 1. The first of these parts, ‘Text, Intertextuality and Context’, appears to offer the most immediate contribution to this discussion. The investigative approach begins with questions of source, identifying starting points rather than complete selections and being open to the ‘widening range of archives and sites’, with an openness to synthesizing ‘material that has previously been seen as quite unrelated’.32 Within this continuous selective process, the emphasis is on quality of text rather than quantity.33 Rose further sub-divides analysis of materials; firstly, ‘the structure of the discursive statements’ and secondly, ‘a concern for the social context of those statements; who is saying them, and in what circumstances’.34 The second part of the scaffolding (‘Institutions and ways of seeing’) foregrounds attentiveness to institutional location.35

Whilst Rose’s approach offers some balance between methodological rigour and faithfulness to Foucault, two issues appear to stand counter to

Foucault’s view that history should be ‘descriptive’ rather than ‘hermeneutic’. For Foucault, there is no ‘hidden’ or ‘deeper’ meaning that lies, somehow hidden, beneath the text.36 By concentrating on what is said and seen (through emphasis on the sayable and the visible), there is a shift of attention away from who is saying and seeing; in this way, the approach is essentially non-interpretative and non-anthropological.37 This emphasis on description is especially clear in Foucault’s work on the re-comprehension of power, concentrating as much on what power creates as what it destroys. Whilst it is important to note that Foucault’s theories of power develop throughout his writing, he claims an inextricable link between ‘power’ and knowledge: ‘It is the power-knowledge nexus that renders the Foucaultian approach to history unique’.38 For him, power is the link between what is ‘sayable’ and what is ‘visible’.39 Whilst these two poles arc always in tension, the tension can be a creative one, giving rise to a (generally undervalued) concept of positive power. Thus, it becomes preferable to consider ‘power’, not as an ‘attribute’ (i.e. what is it?), but rather as an ‘exercize’ (i.e. how does it work?).40 Consequently, the role of the analyst is not to ‘promote or oppose’ power and resistance to it, rather it is to describe the way in which it operates.41 So Rose’s emphasis on institutional location and on who is making the statements both shift the focus away from the statements themselves.

The way in which Jean Carabine has operationalized Foucault’s ideas offers some remedies to these difficulties. Carabine develops a single framework of 11 queries, with a major emphasis on the importance of familiarity with the data.42 Further, the framework prioritizes the absences and silences together with the resistances and counter-discourses. Thus, Carabine’s approach appears slightly more consistent with the reading of Foucault upon which Statement Archaeology is founded, maintaining an apparent priority on Foucault’s methods and ideas whilst being sufficiently rigorous. However, when compared to the methodology that Foucault himself sets out, there are a number of departures in Carabine’s approach; for example, she completely overlooks Foucault’s emphasis on discontinuity.

The discussion of these two examples, both of which appear to be significant departures from the methods that Foucault himself uses, raises the question of why, if researchers claim to undertake a ‘Foucaultian’ analysis, they choose not to use Foucault’s own method as set out in Archaeology of Knowledge and The Order of Things. This difficulty' of operationalizing Foucault’s historical method in ways consistent with his onto-epistcmological positioning appears to be rooted in the misconception, discussed already, that his work is methodologically vague. As already argued, Foucault’s method is both precise and specific and he does, albeit distributed throughout his writing, provide a transparent, rigorous, methodological description. However, the systematization of this has hitherto been overlooked.

The development of Statement Archaeology is an attempt to operationalize Foucault’s approach to historical enquiry, setting out very clearly the processes and guidelines within which Foucault worked, whilst resisting the prescription of ‘a model that serves to discipline others’.43 Although there is a growing interest in the application of Foucault’s theories to educational research (exemplified, for example, in the work of Stephen Ball) there does not appear to have been—as far as it has been possible to ascertain—a systematic operationalization of Foucault’s historical methods akin to Statement Archaeology.44

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