DG5. Poststructuralism

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Information about DG5. Poststructuralism

Published on February 27, 2014

Author: a.dekaltchouk

Source: slideshare.net

Theme “Major International Relations Theories” DG 5. Post-positivist era: Poststructuralism and more February 19th, 2014 Anna A. Dekalchuk, Lecturer at the Department of Applied Politics, Higher School of Economics – St. Petersburg

DG outline 1. Liza & Daniil present… 2. How to study social world? 3. What is poststr. philosophy about?


2. How to study social world? EXPLANATORY THEORIES: • see the world as something external to the theories of it; • aim at uncovering regularities in human behaviour and thereby explaining the social world in much the same way as a natural scientist might explain the physical world (unity of science argument); • strive to find the causal relations that „rule‟ world politics (dependent and independent variables).

2. How to study social world? CONSTITUTIVE THEORIES: • think that theories actually help construct the world (theories about the world shape how we act, and thereby make those theories become self-confirming); • see our language and concepts as helping create the reality (the very concept we use to think about the world help to make that world what it is); • see theory as not external to the things it is trying to explain (and as constructing how we think about the world) => theories define what we see as the external world; • casual epistemology of the hard sciences is inappropriate to study the social world.


2. How to study social world? FOUNDATIONAL THEORIES: • hold that all truth claims can be judged true or false (against empirical „facts‟); ANTI-FOUNDATIONAL THEORIES: • think that truth claims cannot be judged since there are never neutral grounds for doing so (these grounds are simply a reflection of an adherence to a particular view of epistemology). What were the reasons for the constitutive antifoundational theories to become popular in the 90s?

2. How to study social world? Positivism Post-positivism* inter-paradigm debate intra-paradigm debates EXPLANATORY & FOUNDATIONAL THEORIES Historical sociology CONSTITUTIVE & ANTI-FOUNDATIONAL THEORIES What are 4 main assumptions of positivist epistemology?

2. How to study social world? 4 main assumptions of positivist epistemology: • Belief in the unity of science (same methodologies for scientific and non-scientific world); • Distinction between facts and values with facts being neutral between theories; • Social world like the natural one, has regularities that can be discovered by our theories; • The way to determine the truth of statements is by appeal to the neutral fact (empirical epistemology).

3. What is poststr. philosophy? Jean-François Lyotard (1924-1998) “Post-modern is incredulity towards metanarratives” Jacques Derrida Michel Foucault Julia Kristeva (1930-2004) (1926-1984) (born 1941) Concepts of Concepts of Concept of deconstruction and intertextuality discourse, genealog double reading y and power (power-knowledge relationship) Why study popular culture and identities?

3. What is poststr. philosophy? ON DISCOURSE: Michel Foucault (1926-1984) 1. Language is essential to how we make sense of the world; 2. Language is social because we cannot make our thoughts understandable to others without a set of shared codes; 3. Discourse is a linguistic system that orders statements and concepts; 4. The words we use to describe something are not neutral (choice of them has implications); 5. Language is not a neutral transmitter but language produces meanings (things do not have an objective meaning independently of how we constitute them in language); 6. Thus, the assigned meanings depend on discourse.

3. What is poststr. philosophy? ON GENEALOGY: Michel Foucault (1926-1984) 1. Genealogy is a history of the present (it turns what we accept as natural into a question); 2. Two questions are in need while using genealogy: (1) what political practices have formed the present and (2) which alternative understandings have been marginalized and often forgotten; 3. The central message of genealogy is that various regimes of truth merely reflect the ways in which, through history, both power and truth develop together in a mutually sustainable relationship; 4. Thus, we need to gain an understanding of the discursive and material structures that underpin the present.

3. What is poststr. philosophy? ON POWER-KNOWLEDGE RELATIONS: Michel Foucault (1926-1984) 1. Power is „productive‟: it comes about when discourses constitute particular subject positions as the „natural‟ ones => „actors‟ do not exist outside discourse; they are produced through discourse; 2. To establish oneself as having the knowledge to govern a particular issue is an instance of power; 3. Knowledge is integral to power itself (to speak from a position of knowledge is to exercise authority over a given issue); 4. Knowledge is not immune from the workings of power (all power requires knowledge and all knowledge relies on reinforces existing power relations); 5. The concept of biopolitics.

3. What is poststr. philosophy? ON DECONSTRUCTION: 1. To see language as a set of codes means that words (or signs) make sense only in relations to other words; 2. We know something only by comparing it to something it is not; 3. Language as connected signs works for the structural side of post-structuralism; 4. But these sign structures (textual interplay) are unstable because connections between words are never given once and for all; 5. Language is made up by dichotomies, which are not „neutral‟ as one term is superior to another; 6. Deconstruction shows how such dichotomies make something seemingly natural (but in fact are a structured set of values that is artificially constructed). Jacques Derrida (1930-2004)

3. What is poststr. philosophy? ON DOUBLE READING: 1. As deconstruction is a way of showing how all theories and discourses rely on artificial stabilities produced by the use of seemingly objective and natural oppositions, double reading is a way of showing how these stabilizations operate by subjecting the text to two readings; 2. The first reading is a repetition of a dominant reading to show how it achieves coherence; 3. The second reading is to point out the internal tensions within a text that result from the use of seemingly natural stabilizations; 4. The aim is not to come to a „correct; or even „one‟ reading of a text, but intsead to show how there is always more than one reading. Jacques Derrida (1930-2004)

3. What is poststr. philosophy? ON INTERTEXTUALITY: Julia Kristeva (born 1941) 1. Understand the social world as comprised of texts; 2. Texts form an intertext; that is they are connected to texts that came before them; 3. Intertextuality implies that certain things are taken for granted because previous texts have made the point so many times that there is no need to state it again; 4. Working with intertextuality, we should ask ourselves what a given text does not mention either because it is taken for granted or because it is too dangerous to say; 5. As intertextuality points to the way in which texts always „quote‟ past texts, it also holds that individual texts are unique (no text is a complete reproduction of an earlier one). Why study popular culture?

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