Post-Foundational Discourse Analysis: A Suggestion for a Research Program

  • Tomas Marttila Otto-Friedrich-Universität Bamberg
Keywords: David Howarth, discourse, Ernesto Laclau, Essex School in Discourse Analysis, Imre Lakatos, methodological holism, post-foundational discourse analysis (PDA), Rainer Diaz-Bone, research program, second-order hermeneutics


Post-foundational discourse analysis, also labeled as Essex School in Discourse Analysis, has been observed to suffer from a considerable methodological deficit that limits its applicability in empirical research. The principal aim of this article is to overcome this methodological deficit by constructing the research program of the post-foundational discourse analysis that facilitates its operationalization in empirical research. In accordance with Imre LAKATOS (1970) and David HOWARTH (2004a), a research program is referred to an internally consistent and openly scrutinizable system of theoretical, methodological and phenomenal concepts that opens up the possibility to distinguish between the "negative" and the "positive" heuristics of empirical research. The first three sections develop the positive heuristics of the post-foundational discourse analysis by elucidating its theoretical foundations, methodological position and phenomenal framework. The concluding fourth section draws on the presented positive heuristics to outline the analytical stages and strategies of the post-foundational discourse analysis and discusses suitable methods for sampling and interpreting empirical data.



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Author Biography

Tomas Marttila, Otto-Friedrich-Universität Bamberg

Tomas MARTTILA, born 1977, PhD in sociology, Master of Social Science. 1997-2004 study of political science, economic history, history and economics at the University of Lund, Blekinge Institute of Technology (Sweden) and University College Dublin (Ireland). From 2005 to 2008, fellow of the Graduate School "Markets and Social Systems in Europe" at the University of Bamberg (Germany). PhD completed in November 2010, and PhD thesis published by Routledge (New York) in 2013 ("The Culture of Enterprise in Neoliberalism: The Specters of Entrepreneurship"). His habilitation project dealing with the methodologization of the post-foundational discourse theory will be published in October 2015 by Palgrave MacMillan (Basingstoke) ("Post-Foundational Discourse Analysis: From Political Difference to Empirical Research"). Tomas MARTTILA has been a researcher since 2008 at the Department of Sociology, esp. Sociological Theory at the University of Bamberg. His main research interests include empirical discourse analysis; methods of empirical social research; theories of science; economic sociology; sociology of education. In FQS, Tomas MARTTILA published the article Whither governmentality research: A case study of the governmentalization of the entrepreneur in the French epistemological tradition.

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