Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-684899dbb8-c97xr Total loading time: 0.317 Render date: 2022-05-28T02:23:54.486Z 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

1 - Foucault's theory of power

from PART I - POWER

Richard A. Lynch
Affiliation:
DePauw University
Dianna Taylor
Affiliation:
John Carroll University, Cleveland, Ohio
Get access

Summary

An important step in understanding Foucault's broader projects is to understand his view of power. Foucault's analyses of power are simultaneously articulated at two levels, the empirical and the theoretical. The first level is constituted by a detailed examination of historically specific modes of power and how these modes emerged out of earlier forms. Hence, he identifies modern forms of power, such as the closely related modes he termed “disciplinary power” and “biopower”, and earlier, premodern forms such as “sovereign power”. Indeed, much of his work on power is devoted to the task of articulating the emergence of later modes of power from earlier ones, and his analyses of disciplinary power in particular have been especially useful for subsequent scholars.

Three very simple examples can illustrate these forms of power. First, imagine a pyramid, with a king at the top, his ministers in the middle and the king's subjects (the people) at the bottom. If the king issues an edict, then his ministers will execute the order, imposing it upon the king's subjects. Traditionally, power has been understood as “being at the top of the pyramid”; and that was all that it was understood to be. But Foucault expands (indeed, totally reconceives) what constitutes power, and shows how this traditional view can be situated within a fuller understanding. He observed that in actual fact, power arises in all kinds of relationships, and can be built up from the bottom of a pyramid (or any structure).

Type
Chapter
Information
Michel Foucault
Key Concepts
, pp. 13 - 26
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.)

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.

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.

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.

Available formats
×