Michel Pêcheux

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Michel Pêcheux (1938-1983) was one of the main representatives of a critical and productive episode in French discourse analysis, from the late 1960s to the early 1980s. He shared with his contemporaries such as Michel Foucault a background in Bachelardian epistemology and Althusserian 'post-structuralism' and an interest in theories of discourse, but his most important contribution to discourse analysis consisted in the development of tools for conducting empirical studies of discourses. In an attempt to break away from the 'spontaneous ideology' of content analysis, Pêcheux developed a formal, potentially automatic instrument, which he called Automatic Discourse Analysis. This instrument could generate a structuralist description of a discourse by identifying and describing relations of selection and substitution of syntactic elements in a corpus of texts representing that discourse. When dealing with criticisms of this approach and attempting to overcome its limitations, Pêcheux moved away from structuralism and developed a more reflective theory of 'interdiscourse' in which he tried to account for the ideological struggle and dynamic inequality between discourses. (Source)


(in French unless noted)


  • Analyse automatique du discours, Paris: Dunod, 1969.
  • with Michel Fichant, Sur l'histoire des sciences, Paris: Maspero, 1969.
    • Sobre a história das ciências, trans. Francisco Bairrao, Lisbon: Estampa, 1971. (in Portuguese)
  • Les vérités de la Palice, Paris: Maspéro, 1975.
  • with Françoise Gadet, La langue introuvable, Paris: Maspéro, 1981.
  • Tony Hak, Niels Helsloot (eds.), Michel Pêcheux: Automatic Discourse Analysis, trans. David Macey, Amsterdam and Atlanta/GA: Rodopi, 1995, ARG. (in English)


  • "Discourse: Structure or Event?", trans. Warren Montag, with Marie-Germane Pêcheux and Denise Guback, in Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture, eds. Cary Nelson and Lawrence Grossberg, Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1988, pp 633-650. (in English)
  • "Ideology: Fortress or Paradoxical Space?", in Rethinking Ideology: A Marxist Debate, eds. Sakari Hanninen and Leena Paldan, New York: International General/IMMRC, 1983. (in English)