Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-684899dbb8-67wsf Total loading time: 0.43 Render date: 2022-05-19T21:40:06.944Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "useNewApi": true }
This chapter is part of a book that is no longer available to purchase from Cambridge Core

3 - Biopower

from PART I - POWER

Chloë Taylor
Affiliation:
University of Alberta
Dianna Taylor
Affiliation:
John Carroll University, Cleveland, Ohio
Get access

Summary

French philosopher Michel Foucault is perhaps best known as a theorist of power. Foucault analysed several different types of power, including sovereign power, disciplinary power and the subject of the current chapter: biopower. In what follows, I will first provide an overview of biopower as Foucault conceives of it. This overview will distinguish biopower from sovereign and disciplinary power, identify and discuss distinctive characteristics of biopower and provide examples which illustrate these characteristics. The final section of the chapter undertakes an extended example of a particular occurrence of biopower within modern and contemporary Western societies.

Powers of life and death: from sovereign power to biopower

In The History of Sexuality: An Introduction (1990a) and in his 1975–76 Collège de France course, Society Must Be Defended (2003) Foucault describes biopower as a power which takes hold of human life. In both these works Foucault traces the shift from classical, juridicolegal or sovereign power to two typically modern forms of power, discipline and biopower, as a shift from a right of death to a power over life: “in the classical theory of sovereignty, the right of life and death was one of sovereignty's basic attributes … The right of sovereignty was the right to take life or let live. And then this new right is established: the right to make live and to let die” (2003: 240–41). Sovereign power is a power which deduces.

Type
Chapter
Information
Michel Foucault
Key Concepts
, pp. 41 - 54
Publisher: Acumen Publishing
Print publication year: 2010

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)
2
Cited by

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

  • Biopower
  • Edited by Dianna Taylor, John Carroll University, Cleveland, Ohio
  • Book: Michel Foucault
  • Online publication: 05 February 2013
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/UPO9781844654734.004
Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

  • Biopower
  • Edited by Dianna Taylor, John Carroll University, Cleveland, Ohio
  • Book: Michel Foucault
  • Online publication: 05 February 2013
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/UPO9781844654734.004
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Biopower
  • Edited by Dianna Taylor, John Carroll University, Cleveland, Ohio
  • Book: Michel Foucault
  • Online publication: 05 February 2013
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/UPO9781844654734.004
Available formats
×