Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Discourse and Power

In Chapter 6 of our Blue CT&PC book, there is a section which discusses Michael Focault's ideas on discourse, the power of discourse, and the relation between knowledge and power. Here the book states that, "discourses produce subjects that we are invited to occupy. Discourses, therefore, are social practices in which we engage.....what we think of as an 'experience' is always experience in or of a particular discourse. Moreover, what we think of as our 'selves' is the internalization of a multiplicity of discourses." For example, you are only a 'football player' if you play football (in the book the example is netball). So this discourse, (the playing of football) this social practice, along with all of the other discourses you participate in, actually come to define your 'self'. In this gatorade commercial, a dancer and a tennis player are shown, obviously, dancing and playing tennis. This would constitute as an example of what Foucault descibes as discourses that make someone into a football player, a dancer, a tennis player, etc, and ultimately an athlete. The reason for Gatorade showing these amazing athletes is to endorse their product by showing that Gatorade actually helps one to perform the discourse to the best of their ability, and therefore also promotes that Gatorade helps turn the ordinary into extraordinary in these so called "social practices". Foucault also claims that "discourses produce knowledge, and knowledge is always a weapon of power.....Power produces reality; through discourses it produces 'truths' we live by." Therefore, since these discourses ultimately produce truths that we live by and accept, what are some different examples of these discourses we see in everyday life? And also, how much of our everyday life actually does stem from our beliefs (most likely unconciously) in discourse?

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