Exploring Welfare Discourse in Korea Based on M. Foucault's Power And Knowledge Relations

M. Foucault의 권력지식관계론에 기초한 한국의 복지담론 해석

  • Seo, Jeonghoon (Faculty of Public Administration and Social Welfare at Chosun University)
  • Received : 2015.07.28
  • Accepted : 2015.11.01
  • Published : 2015.11.30


What is the role of welfare discourse? Michel Foucault suggests the power and knowledge relation that power in a particular society and period controls the society and members by creating knowledge affecting the formation of cognitive and normative systems. Having the formation of exclusions(constraint of cognition), and materiality and reality(normative system) as an analytical framework, this article attempts the exploration of welfare discourse analyses with public statements relating to welfare subjects of the four former Korean presidents. As a result, It is found that dominant epistemic system is formed by balancing welfare and growth and regarding jobs as the best welfare(the linkage of welfare-growth-employment), emphasizing individual economic responsibility and self-reliance, pursuing welfare selectivism, and excluding comprehensive welfare provisions. At the same time, it is observed that power is not always formulating systematic knowledge and that there is a gap between cognition and norm. While the Foucauldian discourse analysis provides a causal inference about low social welfare expenditure, excessive focus on the role of power as knowledge generator and infuser causes a question of how to accommodate contemporary changes into knowledge system.