Geertz had a splendid eye for making sense of ideas and meanings — pulling out the figure from the ground. Here are a few lines on the significance of Foucault:
Foucault’s leading ideas are not in themselves all that complex; just unusually difficult to render plausible. The most prominent of them, and the one for which he has drawn the most attention, is that history is not a continuity, one thing growing organically out of the last and into the next, like the chapters in some nineteenth-century romance. It is a series of radical discontinuities, ruptures, breaks, each of which involves a wholly novel mutation in the possibilities for human observation, thought, and action…. Under whatever label, they are to be dealt with “archaeologically,” That is, they are first to be characterized acording to the rules determining what kinds of perception and experience can exist within their limits, what can be seen, said, performed, and thought in the conceptual domain they define. That done, they are then to be put into a pure series, a genealogical sequence in which what is shown is not how one has given causal rise to another but how one has formed itself in the space left vacant by another, ultimately covering it over with new realities. The past is not prologue, like the discrete strata of Schliemann’s site, it is a mere succession of buried presents. (“Stir Crazy,” 1978, 30)
This is a very concise, insightful statement of Foucault’s position, and certainly more understandable than any particular stretch of The Archaeology of Knowledge & The Discourse on Language
I have not read Foucault but like the way his thoughts are so succinctly summarized here.
The real issue is not whether baking biscuits is meaningful, but the extent to which the activity can seem so after it has been continuously stretched and subdivided across five thousand lives and half a dozen different manufacturing sites. An endeavor endowed with meaning may appear meaningful only when it proceeds briskly in the hands of a restricted number of actors and therefore where particular workers can make an imaginative connection between what they have done with their working days and their impact upon others.
An interesting point here is that when work is sub-divided into several tiny pieces and each of the tiny activities is repeated ad nauseum by a single worker the workplace only creates sorrow,not joy for the worker. Here we are looking for maximizing productivity with a view to maximizing profits but we are ignoring the need for improving the quality of life for the worker.
There is a fine point being made about the internet bringing about some kind of equality-you the man in the street has as much a voice on any subject as the so-called expert.Perfectly ordinary persons now talk science,culture,sport,literature etc. There is no “us-and-them” in knowledge creation now because everybody is part of the collective conscious and contributes to it. The second interesting point is the opportunity it allows to the various participants in the game of aggregation of thought which continuously happens on the side .Thus while the process of aggregation is continuously going on people are unwittingly taking part in it through the social media and enriching human thought.