On discourse

1. In earlier studies, we were able to isolate a distinctive level of investigation among all those approaches which permit the analysis of systems of thought: the analysis of discursive practices. This context discloses a systematic organization that cannot be reduced to the demands of logic or linguistics. Discursive practices are characterized by the delimitation of a field of objects, the definition of a legitimate perspective for the agent of knowledge, and the fixing of norms for the elaboration of concepts and theories. Thus, each discursive practice implies a play of prescription that designate its exclusions and choices.

Furthermore, these sets of "regularities" do not coincide with individual works; even if these "regularities" are manifested through individual works or announce their presence for the first time through one of them, they are more extensive and often serve to regroup a large number of individual works. But neither do they coincide with what we ordinarily call a science or a discipline even if their boundaries provisionally coincide on certain occasions; it is usually the case that a discursive practice assembles a number of diverse disciplines or sciences or that it crosses a certain number among them and regroups many of their individual characteristics into a new and occasionally unexpected unity.

Discursive practices are not purely and simply ways of producing discourse. They are embodied in technical processes, in institutions, in patterns for general behavior, in forms for transmission and diffusion, and in pedagogical forms which, at once, impose and maintain them.


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Inf(l)ections by Steve Cook