Discourse Toolbox - The Dispositive

The Dispositive is an idea that there is one system of knowledge which links:-

  1. Discourse - which is a flow or resevoir of knowledge
  2. Events - which are formed by decisions, which are implementations of knowledge
  3. Objects - which are created by people using their specialist knowledge, sciences, technology, design, etc.

On the attached pages I give some examples of how this can be used as a practical technique. Although this may not be the way that academics genarally use the dispositive, I think it is valid to use it as a measure of coherence between events, discourses, and objects - it can reveal where they are "papering over the cracks"

I have used the dispositive in three different ways ........

  1. In the page on Government, I show that there are 3 views of the Government - as "in control" of the country, as international collaborator, and as emergency intervention power. These do not fit together very comfortably when a crisis arises
  2. In the page on industrialisation, I discuss how a new discourse (industrialisation) can cause problems when applied to a new field (agriculture), especially when everyone would rather not know about the industrialisation.
  3. In the page on animals and industry, in a situation where animals have "broken", I try to look at how industrial ideas might have been wrongly applied in agriculture

I summarise this using the dispositive as - the application of a familiar discourse (industry) to a new area of knowledge (food production), has given rise to several events (BSE, Foot and Mouth disease), but also cheaper food (?).

I would also add that the physical products from the food industry are often marketed and packaged in ways which maintain a fantasy in the mind of the buyer about the way they are produced - they appear to be rural rather than industrial products. This shows a gap between discourses and products.

Perhaps I should add that we also seem to use the dispositive (instinctively) in personal terms - if someones thoughts, words and actions do not seem be coherent, then we lose trust in them. To some extent, we all select which of our thoughts to put into words, but we expect some reasonable level of correlation and honesty in this.

Please contact me at george@whatever-will.be if you are interested in the above

(0044)(0) 1372-749803

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