Sustaining Significance of Confessional Form: Taking Foucault to Attitudinal Research
Keywords:Foucault, Confession, subjectivation, surveying, coding behaviour
This paper offers a conceptual reconstruction and empirical case study of an often-eclipsed concept of Michel Foucault’s genealogical project, confession. Departing from Foucault’s dictum that his core research interest rests in the experience of the subject, I argue that, without a detailed understanding of diverse modalities of the confessional form, various subjectivation processes and epistemological procedures could not be fully grasped. In the first part, I systematise Foucault’s incoherent confessional account against the backdrop of his entangled genealogies of modern man and the human sciences. Subsequently, I introduce a case study of a quantitative attitudinal survey based on face-to-face interviews to test Foucault’s model of confession in present-day circumstances and demonstrate its sustaining analytical significance by disclosing the cognitive technique of coding behaviour. Thus far, governmentality studies have confronted positivistic methods in social sciences to display their objectifying functions. In contrast, I use the technique of coding behaviour to immerse into these scientific practices. Such a perspective delivers a fine-grained exposure of epistemological strategies in social sciences that are enabled by the appropriation of the confessional model and that constitute subjective identities on an individual and mass scale.
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