Thirdly, archeological analysis describes relations between discourses and 'non- discursive domains' like institutions or economic practices. It does so not in the interest of showing lines of causality or motivation for a set of statements, nor to show that discourses and practices both reflect a general spirit of the times, but in order more fully to define 'specific forms of articulation.'
Chapter 5: Change and Transformations
The history of ideas charts historical development; it is committed to describing a 'slow and [otherwise] imperceptible' set of changes. Archeology, by contrast, seems to ignore the movement of time altogether, fixing discursive regularities and networks in a frozen set of relations without giving any account of moments of change. Is this really the case? Not exactly. Archeological description does not depend on simple temporal succession, but it frees itself from this dependence precisely in order to describe the form of temporality proper to a given discourse. The temporal succession of statements and events plays a varying role in the various conditions of enunciation for various statements. Some discursive events are more closely tied to temporal succession than others; it is this relation that the archeological method tries to describe in all its variety.
Archeology insists on describing differences and discontinuities rather than treating them as obstacles. How does it do this? First, archeology recognizes different levels of events rather than a string of homologous statement-units. These different levels never submit to one overriding hierarchy; thus, the replacement of an entire discursive formation does not always have the same effects at the level of the statement or the level of discursive objects, concepts, or strategies. Second, archeology replaces the general, homogeneous category of 'change' with the description of various 'transformations.' Third, archeology recognizes the extent to which transformation and stability are related in specific ways. If some aspect of a discourse remains stable, this is not through inertia but through processes every bit as 'active' as those that form the conditions for transformation. Fourth, archeology 'disarticulates the synchrony of breaks' or ruptures in discourse or of a discourse. A rupture in discourse is not simply a temporal point, but a complex system of transformations whose description does not depend solely on a chronology.
These three chapters conclude Foucault's set of four points by which his archeological method is distinguished from the history of ideas, a field whose method and results might otherwise seem quite close to Foucault's. The overall aim here is familiar from the introduction: Foucault lays out a set of rather bulky, uncritical assumptions about history and replaces them with a set of complex descriptions. Here, however, there is a greater level of detail.
These chapters are filled with examples from Foucault's own research in eighteenth-century medical, economic, and grammatical discourse. These examples are often responsible for page-long sentences, in which Foucault lists all of the various levels at which a given aspect of archeological analysis should proceed and gives a very brief historical example for each.