discourse and discourse formation
discourse and discourse formationthe particular 'S cientific’ and specialist language(s), and associated ideas and social outcomes, which, according to FOUCAULT, must be seen as a major phenomenon of social POWER, and not simply a way of describing the world. For example, as the result of medical and scientific discourse(s), conceptions and the social handling of SEXUALITY or MADNESS have changed profoundly, in the 20th-century, from the previous ‘non-scientific’ view. It is an important aspect of Foucault's conception of discourse(s), that, in part at least, social phenomena are constructed from within a discourse; that there are no phenomena outside discourses. See also DISCOURSE ANALYSIS, EPISTEME; compare PARADIGM.
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000