WP176 Five Foucauldian postulates for rethinking language and power

Martín Rojo


This paper examines the extent to which shifts in the understanding of power within a poststructuralist frame require researchers to re-examine the relationships between language and power. In the light of notions of power developed in and after Foucault’s seminal work, this paper shows how new research questions and objects of study are emerging for sociolinguistics, linguistic anthropology, discourse analysis, and applied linguistics, among other research fields. The paper focuses on five postulates about power, and on the conditions that research on power and language should fulfill to address them. Starting with a critique of earlier approaches which tend to localize power in the State (eg. linguistic policies), the paper examines how more recent critical approaches in sociolinguistics and discourse analysis have? prepared the ground for a more fluid and dynamic understanding of the microphysics of power and language. But despite of these contributions, fundamental problems remain largely unaddressed. To go a step further, the paper explores the main mechanisms through which the production of knowledge about languages takes place, and their disciplinary effects on speakers and their linguistic ?conduct?. Power technologies such as normalization, governmentality and subjectivation are examined and applied to speakers? trajectories and practices.