Blog Post

The "Production of Knowledge"

This phrase, repeated incessantly in some quarters of the humanities, has long since slipped its original moorings, and owes more to American corporate lingo than to Althusser. - Scott McLemee, The Public Option," Inside Higher Ed

Has anyone traced the actual history of this phrase, "the production of knowledge"? I think of Foucault when I hear it more than Althusser. And I am reminded, in particular, of Foucault's focus on the broader, more intricate channels through which power flows, shaping of ideas and bodies as well as institutions of governance, all in the name of fostering a "regime" of control. So knowledge, for Foucault, gets "produced" based on the larger systems in which people think and know. And it does so through capillaries of everyday life as well as the main arteries of official power. The micro-production of knowledge as well as the macro. Is that accurate, oh ye Foucauldians out there, surveilling me?

And what of the "corporate lingo" dimensions? Corporations can be as anti-humanist and anti-Enlightenment as Mr. Foucault himself was, though with very different goals in mind. When did this phrase, "the production of knowlege," appear in corporate boardrooms and at management retreats, and for what purposes?

Let us produce some knowledge, yes?


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