Publication 6285

Kidwell K. S. (2008) Politics, performativity, autopoiesis: Toward a discourse systems theory of political culture. Cultural Studies ↔ Critical Methodologies 9(4): 533–558. Fulltext at
As a field of critical inquiry, cultural studies has engaged with the political primarily at the level of cultural politics – the politics of culture – and has all too often neglected political culture – the culture of politics. Although the emergence of cultural policy studies since the late 1980s has remedied this deficiency to some degree, cultural studies approaches politics and governmental policy primarily insofar as they impinge on a cultural domain bounded by the aesthetic and the intellectual. This essay addresses this lacuna in the cultural studies gaze by elaborating a discourse systems theory of political culture based on Michel Foucault’s theory of discourse in The Archaeology of Knowledge, speech act theory, and autopoietic systems theory. The essay argues that political culture is an autopoietic, performative discourse system that regulates the production of political knowledge and the performance of political action.


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