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Term 2 Lecture 1.docx

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York University
Social Science
SOSC 2350
Tanja Juric

Term 2 Lecture 1: January 8, 2013 -Michel Foucault -French social theorist -He is a post-structuralist: Denial of the human being as the privileged object of philosophical analysis -Instead, the focus is on the unconscious determinants of thought (Ex language) -Discourse: conversation or information -Foucault is very interested in discourse: what is the process through which discourse become privileged or de-privileged -Interested in how madness is constructed: argues it’s a social construction -Some discourses are elevated as truth, the way we see the world -In Foucault’s view, nothing is fixed: idea that nothing is permanent, unchangeable in the structuring of the social or personal identity and practices: everything is social determined (Ex the law) -The subject is completely socialized: we just invent things: ways of doing, understanding -Nothing to prevent new ways of being, doing, etc: can keep reconstructing our world/identities -Ex, the way we punish: we’ve chosen this way, nothing natural or inevitable: just one way we’ve invented -This means we can invent other modes of justice -“Truth”, “morality”, etc are created through discourse: through language, our thought processes -Foucault believes the “truth” is not out there: but we act as if it is -Every age has a dominant group of discursive elements that people live in unconsciously -Marginalizes people that do not have dominant discourse -Discourse as an arrangement of ideas, concepts to give us a sense of the word -Ex of discourse is new crayon colour: naturally reject is at first, but this can change -Foucault wants us to reconceptualise power: we tend to think of power as repressive (top down): negative: we tend to view the law this way too: prohibition, etc -Foucault says we also have to understand power as something else: it’s inaccurate to only view law, power as prohibition because it does more: have to see it as productive: influencing us in ways more than being prohibited: also about fabrication, production -Ex the police: tend to see police only as law enforcement: however, police do not only enforce the law: in fact, at times they do not enforce the Criminal code even when they obviously should -However, they have recourse to other tools (discretion): Ex, symbolic power (uniform, cop car, badge): policing is not only about prohibition -He says knowledge is always a form of power: takes it further by saying that knowledge
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