Degree Year


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts




Harlan Garnett Wilson
Ronald Kahn


American legal theory, Foucault, Jurgen Habermas, Power


The challenge for me then, and the question that gave rise to this thesis, was how can the value of Foucault’s insights into the functioning of power within discourse be salvaged given the critiques levelled by Hartsock and Habermas? That is, how can we link Foucault’s analysis of the insidious and all-pervasive nature of power with actual political structures that facilitate and direct its application, and how does this application then affect the functioning of political structures? In attempting to answer this question I have integrated what I see to be two complementary fields of analysis: the critical theory of Jurgen Habermas and the civic republic revival in contemporary American legal theory. Both Habermas and the proponents of the civic republican revival contribute an additional dimension to understanding the place of discourse in society and how that discourse affects power relations. I believe that by drawing on and synthesizing these two fields I can both gain a better understanding of how power operates in society as well as identify potential solutions to counteract its effects.