Although it is now more than 20 years since his death, Michel Foucault continues to stand as an intellectual giant on the field of social and cultural inquiry. Like other intellectual icons of the postmodern pantheon, Foucault’s extensive oeuvre has forced scholars within the social sciences to reflect on the assumptions that underpin their empirical endeavours, to pay acute attention to matters of epistemology and ontology. Since his passing, much has been written on Foucault’s contribution to the ‘human sciences’, with many excellent books dedicated to exploring both his biography and the implications posed by his theories. Far from ‘forgetting Foucault’, as was deemed necessary by another famous postmodern icon (the late, Jean Baudrillard, 1987), scholars from a variety of disciplines continue to employ a ‘Foucauldian paradigm’ to different social settings. Yet, despite his far-reaching influence, Foucault’s work has had little impact on the field of media related inquiry, with comparatively few sociologists seeking to apply his concepts of ‘discourse’ and ‘knowledge/power’ to this pervasive sociocultural institution. Accordingly, this paper seeks to make a modest contribution to the academy’s collective, posthumous, Foucauldian-exegesis by reflecting on the relevance of these concepts for use in researching and understanding the mass media.
The Annual Conference of The Australian Sociological Association (TASA): Re-imagining Sociology. TASA 2008 Conference Proceedings: Re-imagining Sociology (Melbourne, Vic. 2-5 December, 2008)