Discourse and Discourse

Most of my readers who have stuck with me during the extended post-PhD neglect of my blog will know I am working at a magazine publisher. I started as a writer in 2008 and the past year and a half has been something of an apprenticeship. I have been learning how to translate the concepts developed in my PhD into another discourse.

As an intellectual problem I have found this process fascinating. There is a certain media-based commercial discourse that dominates the company, as I imagine a version of it would be dominant at other magazine publishers. I have found it very tricky figuring out how to express what I consider to be the ‘truth’ of a given matter when that ‘truth’ is discounted by the very discourse (ie language, mode of address, authority implicit in the localised rituals of listening and speaking) it is expected to be expressed through. It has allowed me to return to some of Foucault’s work and use it as a resource to think about what is happening.

There are two power struggles in effect and each struggle involves a different set of power relations. The first is relatively simple and could be observed by anyone. This is the struggle over new ideas or a new way to think existing ideas, which rightly or wrongly is interpreted as a challenge to the existing power relations in the organisation. The second is less obvious and gets muddled by being combined with the first. The holders of the current ideas are reluctant to relinquish what they perceive and feel to be the dominant poistion in the power relations in the company by being forced to think ideas that are relatively foreign to them. These foreign ideas serve as the battleground for the second power struggle because they require a new discourse that is perceived to conflict with the existing discourse that enables the existing power relations.