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Michel Pêcheux

(1938—1983)


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(1938–83)

French*Marxistphilosopher and linguist. Pêcheux studied with Louis Althusser at the École Normale Supérieure from 1959 to 1961, quickly becoming part of the select group of students subsequently known as Althusserians—these included Étienne Balibar, Pierre Macherey, Nicos Poulantzas, and Jacques Rancière. On graduation, he obtained a position in a social psychology laboratory at the Centre Nationale de Recherche Scientifique. There he attempted to apply Althusser's thinking to social science topics, focusing specifically on linguistics. He published a manifesto of sorts along these lines entitled L'Analyse automatique du discours (1969) (Automatic Discourse Analysis), in which he sought to understand language as a social practice that contributes both to the maintenance of certain ideological positions, but also the formation of subjectivity. Pêcheux rejects Saussure's casting of the langue/parole distinction, arguing that such formalisms served ideological rather than analytic purposes. Pêcheux's best known work in English is Language, Semantics and Ideology (1982), which is a translation of Les Vérités de la Palice (1975).

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies.


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