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Rhetoric, Discourse and Knowledge

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Edited By Maria Załęska and Urszula Okulska

The authors of this volume explore rhetorical and discursive strategies used to negotiate and establish legitimate knowledge and its disciplinary boundaries, to make scientific knowledge interesting outside academic settings as well, and to manage (c)overt knowledge in different social and political contexts. The volume focuses on the cultural concept of knowledge society, examining diverse linguistic means of knowledge transmission from the perspective of the complex interplay between knowledge and persuasion. The contributors discuss both sociological and philosophical issues, as well as textual processes in different genres that aim to communicate knowledge.

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Knowledge and Power through Discourse and how to gain insights into rhetorical strategies through linguistic analysis – despite Foucault (Paul Danler)

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Paul Danler

University of Innsbruck

Knowledge and Power through Discourse and how to gain insights into rhetorical strategies through linguistic analysis – despite Foucault

Abstract: Distinguishing the notions of knowledge, power and discourse in Foucault’s ‘discourse analysis’ from those in ‘linguistic discourse analysis,’ the author shows how some of Foucaultian ideas on discourse may be enriched, or even completed, by the rigorous application of concepts from traditional discourse analysis, including the rhetorical approach.

1. Introduction

Whenever the issue of knowledge and/or power through discourse constitutes the core of a study, Foucault is never far away. However, if insights into the relationship between knowledge, power and discourse are supposed to be gained through linguistic analyses, Foucault would disapprove.

Starting from common notions of knowledge, power and discourse, it would seem obvious to linguists that the relationship between knowledge and power and discourse is linguistic in nature, and should be dealt with at a morpho-syntactic, lexical-semantic and probably pragmatic-argumentative level. Foucault, however, would not agree with that. His concepts of knowledge and power are different from the generally accepted ones. Yet, still more important, and even decisive for the choice of analytical method, is the fact that his concept of discourse is fundamentally different from that of linguistic discourse.

For this reason, I would first like to outline the linguistic discussion of discourse and then Foucault’s notion of discourse. After that, I will briefly present...

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