Visualization_Summer_13

Power

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Unformatted text preview: ect in the process of discourse. The object is constituted by the discourse of the subject; they are mutually constituted and are not independent. Foucault (1979) is the pre‐eminent scholar who enabled the transition from semiotics to the nexus of discourse/practice and power/knowledge. He identified several “modes of objectification” through which objects come into being—“dividing practices,” “classification,” and “normalization.” Institutions and their discursive practices are the agents by which objects (individuals) are divided, classified, and subjected to normalization. Consider such binaries as normal versus mad, normal versus criminal, normal versus pervert, rich versus poor, modern versus traditional, and developed versus underdeveloped. These are the products of specialized discourses that determine the shape, form, and constitution of objects. Yet subjects too are constituted by discourse in a process Foucault called “subjectification.” Cousins and Hussain (1984, p. 101) described this aspect of Foucault's work thus: “There was, as it were, a circular movement: the normal adult examined the `abnormal' . . . [and this provided a] vantage‐point for his own analysis. That is, the relation of the subject to the object of knowledge in time turned into the reflexive relationship of self‐understanding. As if it . . . [were] the mirror in which the normal adults came to recognize themselves.” Discourse itself has no prior status independent of its relation to the subject/object binary. Discourse is produced by the subject in the acts of observing, constructing, and managing the object. This interplay of subject, object, and discourse—the creation of a discourse in each respective field—was the central theme of Foucault's Madness and Civilization (psychiatry), The Birth of the Clinic (medicine), and Discipline and Punish (criminology and penal justice). Other examples are the colonial construction of discourses on race, environmental determinism,...
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