Governing Governments: Discourse-tactics in the digital transparency apparatus
In: Studies of Discourse and Governmentality. New perspectives and methods. Eds. Paul McIlvenny et al. 2016. John Benjamins.
In a world of controversy and suspicion, transparency promises a ‘virtuous chain’ of informed citizens, rational deliberation and democratic participation. In contrast, this essay conceptualises transparency as a Foucauldian dispositif: a network of discourse, tactics, institutional processes and local subjectivities which articulates what kinds of actions and statements are admissible and tactically profitable. Notably, transparency discourse mobilises individual citizens to audit the state – to govern governments. This becomes the basis upon which the state and other institutions may legitimise and delegitimise one another through strategic uses of transparency discourse. We illustrate these processes through an examination of the ‘Seralini Affair’: a prominent controversy over GMO, scientific expertise and transparency in France. We analyse transparency discourse invoked by major stakeholders in the Affair, drawing tools from critical discourse analysis and French discourse analysis.