Sustaining Significance of Confessional Form: Taking Foucault to Attitudinal Research


  • Krystof Dolezal Central European University



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.

Author Biography

Krystof Dolezal, Central European University

Krystof Dolezal is a Ph.D. candidate in political science at Central European University in Vienna. His current research explores the intersection between political ideologies and religion, reconstructing the Czechoslovak Christian Democratic ideological composition and strategy during the Cold War. Prior to his current fellowship at the Davis Center at Harvard University, Krystof was a fellow at the Centre for Social and Political Thought at Sussex University (Brighton), the Institut für die Wissenschaften vom Menschen (Vienna), and the European University Institute (Florence). He is a recipient of the Fulbright Scholarship, Hoover Institution research support, and Visegrad Fund Fellowship.


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How to Cite

Dolezal, K. (2023). Sustaining Significance of Confessional Form: Taking Foucault to Attitudinal Research. Foucault Studies, (34), 1–24.