Power, Discourse, and Subject. The Case of Laclau and Foucault

Polish Journal of Philosophy 5 (1):117-136 (2011)
Abstract
In this text the author draws on two contemporary accounts of power—by Michel Foucault and Ernesto Laclau—and, on the basis of thorough analysis and comparison, he argues for “the discursive account of power” (DAP) as a new concept reflecting the novel approach to the theory of power developed by these two philosophers. He opens with a broad methodological outline of contemporary concepts of power, distinguishing between the “classical” and the “modern” approaches. Basing his findings on Laclau’s and Foucault’s work, he then presents DAP as a theory characterized by decentralizing, non-normative, and conflict-based tendencies that does not exhibit many of the limitations that usually characterize both classical and modern concepts of power. In the second part of the article the author presents a detailed methodological analysis of Foucault’s and Laclau’s concepts of power, focusing on three axes: power, discourse, and the subject. The author dedicates the last section to a comparison of both approaches, concluding that DAP is an inspiring project that exceeds the limits of traditional liberal theories of power and politics
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