History of the Human Sciences 24 (4):81-96 (2011)

Abstract
This article concerns the relevance of postfoundationalism, including the ideas of Michel Foucault, for political science. The first half of the article distinguishes three forms of postfoundationalism, all of which draw some of their inspiration from Foucault. First, the governmentality literature draws on Marxist theories of social control, and then absorbs Foucault’s focus on power/knowledge. Second, the post-Marxists combine the formal linguistics of Saussure with a focus on hegemonic discourses. Third, some social humanists infuse Foucauldian themes into the New Left’s focus on culture, agency and resistance. The second half of the article then describes a research program that may bring together these varieties of postfoundationalism. This research program includes aggregate concepts that overtly allow for the constitutive role of meanings in social life and the contingent nature of these meanings. The concepts are: situated agency, practice and power. A postfoundational research program also needs concepts that demarcate a historicist form of explanation, that is, concepts such as narrative, tradition and dilemma. Finally, this research program contains specific empirical focuses to link these aggregate and explanatory concepts back to governmentality, post-Marxism and social humanism
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DOI 10.1177/0952695111412862
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