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Unformatted text preview: ss of some critiques of postmodernism. 2 Foucault used the term “discourse” to mean much more than “ways of talking;” he often used the term “discourse/practice” to include the institutions through which discourse is practiced such as the prison, the hospital, the asylum, and the academy. I use the term “discourse” in the same sense of “discourse/practice” or “discursive‐material” where subjects are not separate from their objects of study, and ideas are not separate from the material world they describe. Before I turn to an explanation of the constructivist theory of science I wish to make four points regarding the importance of the claims. First, the constructivist model poses a serious challenge to the conventional mirror model of science that has been with us since the Age of Enlightenment, a matter that calls for serious discussion since the modern university is founded on this model. Second, even though epistemology of how we know what we know affects all segments of society, the academy, which is in the business of producing and disseminating knowledge, has a special obligation to pay attention to constructivist claims. Third, certain discourses pose obstacles to solving the very problems they are designed to solve. My own research on poverty claims that the discourse on economic development is the very cause of modern poverty (Sachs 1992; Yapa 1996). Fourth, theories of causation advanced by conventional social science—that is, the search for “root causes”—in problem areas such as race, class, gender, and poverty, have served to disable agency and crippled our ability to engage these issues in a productive way. The constructivist view of science is powerful, and worth our examination, precisely because it opens up new ways to think about causation, power, and agency (Gibson‐Graham, J.K., Cameron, J. and Healy, S. 2013). Over the years I have tried to incorporate theories of discourse and constructivist science into introductory geography courses, drawing pictures and using...
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- Winter '14