Discourse, Knowledge, Materiality, History: Foucault and Discourse Analysis

  • Derek Hook
Part of the Critical Theory and Practice in Psychology and the Human Sciences book series (CTPPHS)


There can be little doubt that discourse analysis has come to represent something of a growth industry in critical and qualitative forms of psychology. Together with a proliferation of various models for the analysis of discourse (Bannister, 1995; Fairclough, 1995; Parker, 1992; Potter and Wetherell, 1987), there has been a veritable explosion of discourse analytic work. This nearly unfettered expansion of discourse analytic work has led, one might suppose, almost inevitably to a variety of misapplications of the work of Michel Foucault, whose name is often attached, practically as a matter of course, to varieties of discourse analysis. It thus seems important to return to Foucault, to clearly define and qualify his understanding of the notion of discourse, and to do so as a means of offering a degree of preciseness to a term which often appears to be both overused and under-defined. I am not suggesting that all instances of discourse analysis misapply Foucault’s work; after all, certain such models of analysis base themselves on an entirely different set of conceptual resources (as in the example of Potter and Wetherell, 1987).


Discourse Analysis Discursive Practice Philosophical Theme Discursive Formation Material Arrangement 
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© Derek Hook 2007

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  • Derek Hook

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