Fotograf Magazine

Investigating Investigations

Introduction: Knowledge and Power

Information and knowledge are intimately connected to power. It is too easy to say that “knowledge is power”, though, because this idiom misses an important point. Knowledge is always particular, contextualised and situated, and which ideas are accepted as knowledge (and which are not) is a social construction, created through Foucault’s work (1977, 1978) on power/knowledge, who famously stated that “There is no power relation without the correlative constitution of a field of knowledge, nor any knowledge that does not presuppose and constitute at the same time power relations.” Another key theoretical resource for this line of argument is Lacau and Mouffe’s (1985) work, who have argued for the political nature of discourse, where knowledge is constructed through discursive struggles for hegemony. Their work is a critique on essentialism and on the idea of an unchangeable universal, reached through linear processes of progress. Or, in their words: “Just as the era of normative epistemologies has come to an end, so too has the era of universal discourses” (Laclau and Mouffe, 1985: 3).

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