Theoretical Paper

Human Studies

, 34:43

First online:

The Sociology of Knowledge Approach to Discourse (SKAD)

  • Reiner KellerAffiliated withAbt. Soziologie, Fb 6 Kultur- und Sozialwissenschaften, Institut für Sozialwissenschaften, University of Koblenz-Landau Email author 

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The article presents the sociology of knowledge approach to discourse (SKAD). SKAD, which has been in the process of development since the middle of the 1990s, is now a widely used framework among social scientists in discourse research in the German-speaking area. It links arguments from the social constructionist tradition, following Berger and Luckmann, with assumptions based in symbolic interactionism, hermeneutic sociology of knowledge, and the concepts of Michel Foucault. It argues thereby for a consistent theoretical and methodological grounding of a genuine social sciences perspective on discourse interested in the social production, circulation and transformation of knowledge, that is in social relations and politics of knowledge in the so-called ‘knowledge societies’. Distancing itself from Critical Discourse Analysis, Linguistics, Ethnomethodology inspired discourse analysis and the Analysis of Hegemonies, following Laclau and Mouffe, SKAD’s framework has been built up around research questions and concerns located in the social sciences, referring to public discourse and arenas as well as to more specific fields of (scientific, religious, etc.) discursive struggles and controversies around “problematizations” (Foucault).


Discourse Knowledge Foucault Berger and Luckmann Symbolic interactionism Problematization Controversy