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Governmentality, Technologies, & Truth Effects in Communication Design
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This chapter argues that communication design knowledge and artifacts are inherently governmental. As a means of communication that combines aesthetics and function, communication design knowledge is a product and producer of a uniquely pervasive form of governance that has seldom been studied. While several researchers and philosophers have expressed interest in the relationship between power, communication design knowledge and communication design artifacts, the governance inherent in communication design has yet to be seriously investigated. Building on the author’s PhD research, this chapter extends Foucault’s theories of discursive technologies, truth effects, and governmentality to account for how communication design artifacts and practitioners participate in the discourses surrounding them. Embodied discourse is proposed as the mechanism for this participation. From this perspective, all artifacts are seen as enmeshed in discursive entanglements, continually being imbued with regulatory meaning, and in turn, regulating their viewers and users. Finally, a framework for investigating the technologies implicit in communication design is presented, along with a discussion of the regulatory qualities of communication design artifacts, and of specific processes within communication design practice.