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 this knowledge
  3. Objects - which are created by people using their specialist knowledge, such as sciences, technology, design, etc.

The Dispositive provides a link between discourse and physical plane events and objects, and I summarise some of the academic theories about this HERE. I also describe how Foucault derived the dispositive as a concept, and some examples of its use.

The Dispositive is one of those all-embracing concepts which can include almost everything there is. Other examples of this type of concept are the soul, anima mundi, the mental plane, and prakriti. The dispositive may relate to these concepts, but does it have practical uses ? Does the dispositive gain over these ideas from world religions ?

In my food and farming case study, the dispositive reveals gaps in the coherence of collective thoughts - an example of this is the BSE crisis, where my summary of this crisis using the dispositive is - 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 to cheaper food supplies.

I would add that the dispositive can also be applied to the physical products from the food industry. These 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 in the dispositive between discourses and products.

We also use the dispositive (instinctively) in personal terms - if there is a deep mis-match between someones thoughts, words and actions, then we lose trust in them. We all select which of our thoughts to put into words, so we accept some simplification from others, but we still expect a reasonable level of correlation and honesty.

The dispositive may be useful in its implication that discourse, objects and events are deeply intertwined, and bound together by varieties of knowledge, and that this should be coherent. Any lack of coherence (or cracks in the structure) will generally show that the discourses are not adequate to describe reality.

I have used the dispositive further as a practical technique on my food policy site.

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

(0044)(0) 1372-749803

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