Re: Foucault and Ethnography

On Friday, March 29, Samuel Binkley wrote:

>can anyone direct me to anything good and recent.... or maybe a whole bunch
>of good recent stuff..... on Foucault and ethnographic practice. What
>aspects of his work do ethnographers emphasize when they talk about
>Foucault's relevance to ethnographic study? More impotantly, what have
>ethnographic researchers in response to Foucault's influence on social
>science approaches?

I don't know how helpful this will be, but here goes...

I'm using Foucault for my ethnography on legal rhetoric. As a
PhD candidate in communication and rhetoric, I am focusing my
dissertation on a Massachusetts statute that requires insurance
coverage for infertility treatment. I'm thinking of the statute
as a statement (which Foucault doesn't anywhere positively
identify but which communication scholar Carole Blair defines as
"uttered and/or transcribed sets of signs or symbols to which a
status of knowledge may be ascribed, which establish or maintain
unique relationships among individuals and groups, and which
enact a particular view of the self" ("The Statement: Foundations
of Foucault's Historial Criticism," Western Journal of Speech
Communication 51.4 [1987] 368-9). While many of us in rhetoric
and communication might study a text such as this statute from
the standpoint of its rhetorical effectiveness (or the intention
of the speaker, or its "meaning"), I am asking instead, what
are the conditions of possibility that led to this statement
about infertility rather than some other?

To answer this question, I am doing interviews (with legislators,
those using conceptive technologies, physicians, insurance company
reps, support and advocacy group leaders, etc.) and observation
(at various sites including the legislature, clinics, support
groups, etc.).

I am still collecting data and have started analyzing it. My
data has led me to focus on the role of law in contributing to the
normalization of (in)fertility (and has led me to another way to use

Beth Britt
PhD Candidate
Dept. of Language, Literature, and Communication
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Partial thread listing: