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Sociology (2,434)
SOCA01H3 (591)


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Ivanka Knezevic

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In the work of Michel Foucault, and that of the social theoreticians he inspired: discourse describes “An entity of sequences, of signs, in that they are enouncements. An enouncement is not a unity of signs, but an abstract matter that enables signs to assign specific, repeatable relations to and among objects, subjects, and statements. Hence, a discourse is composed of sequences of such relations among objects, subjects, and other statements. The term discursive formation conceptually describes the regular communications that produce such discourses. As a philosopher, Foucault applied the discursive formation in the analyses of large bodies of knowledge, such as political economy and natural history. Volume I explores Foucault's ideas regarding the "repressive hypothesis", the idea that western society suppressed sexuality from the 17th to the mid-20th century; he argues that this hypothesis is an false impression, and that in actuality, discourse on sexuality proliferated during this period. He goes on to argue that at this time, experts began to examine sexuality in a scientific manner, classifying different types of sexuality and encouraging people to confess their sexual feelings and actions, all in the desire to learn the "truth" of sex. In The History of Sexuality, he argues that in the Western world during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, people's identities became increasingly tied to their sexuality Development of sexuality as a coherent discourse, showing how modern understanding is in fact merely the latest repetition in a history of understanding. Before the advent of religious leaders and doctors convincing their follower of their sexuality sexual practises were only coherently recognized in relation to marriage. In this prior understanding of sexual practises, one could not be a homosexual. One can have sex with a other man but this was merely an act, an individual instance, and not a quality of life. However with the rise of religion, medical and political discourses surrounding sexuality in the 17 century homosexuality became a coherent classification of people. The sodomite had been a temporary abbreviation; the homosexual was now a species. Judith Butler The crux of Butler's argument in Gender Trouble is that the coherence of the categories of sex, gender, and sexuality—the natural-seeming coherence, for example, of masculine gender and heterosexual desire
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