what is discourse according to Michell Foucault? and what is discourse analysis?
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Discourse is the term New Historicists, in general, and Michel Foucault, in particular, used to designate the system of thoughts, ideas and images that encapsulate the concept of "culture". Other terms have been used to convey this concept but have failed to be accurate. For instance, traditional Historicists have used the terms “ideas” and “concepts” to illustrate the flow of thoughts in a given culture. However, those terms often deny the existence of representative ideas of unprivileged groups in society, and the word “discourse” seems to be more suitable. “Myth” and “Ideology” are other terms used by scholars, but then again, those terms seem to be limited. The further has been largely misused and often gains different connections. The latter is an ideal term that analyses power struggles within a society but it primary brings about the ideas and thoughts of a dominant group or a class of people. In view of that, one understands why the term “discourse” is suitable. It fits the analysis of beliefs, opinions and viewpoints of all branches within a culture. The term fully adapts to the idea that there are countless ways of seeing and talking about the world. It recognizes the presence of many narratives, (discourses) that operate simultaneously. In short, it rejects the discourses stemmed only from the ruler and dominant classes, and instead it considers all types of discourses inherent from all kinds of social groups and backgrounds.
There are several ways in which discourse operates. First of all, being a chain of language, discourse allows social communication; hence it plays an important role in the social construction of the world. Second, discourse presupposes all forms of knowledge and truth. For example, certain discourses in certain contexts have the power to convince people to accept statements as true. Next, discourse reveals something about the people who say it-here, discourse is not only a matter of language, but it is also about the person who speaks it. For instance, through discourse one is able to identify the social class, gender, ideology and ethnicity of the speaker. Lastly, discourse is usually involved with recognized socially networks of power-discourses enable individuals with degrees of social, cultural and even political power to be believed when speaking on special subjects.
Thus, in brief, cultures are constructed by multiple discourses that compete with each other, change over time and may be subdivided, sometimes, into categories governed by specific rules.
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