Power-knowledge - Wikipedia
Power produces knowledge power is implicated in what is considered to be Power: a multiplicity of force relations immanent in the sphere in which they. Foucault's discussions of the relation between truth and power understanding of power and of knowledge that informs Foucault's historical studies of prisons. D. Criticisms of Power/Knowledge and the Legitimacy of Foucault's . two most important genealogical works on the relationship between power and knowledge .
He argues that the exercise of power only remains tolerable by covering up its tracks. He saw it as part of his task, to make people aware of how intolerable some previously taken-for-granted exercises of power actually were and show them that things could be different.
Every human experience, activity, idea and cultural form can be analyzed as an event or as a series of events. Foucault uses the event as a way of arguing against metaphysical essences in history. Instead it is a question of the interrelation of a complex and multilayered range of elements. Knowledge starts with rules and constraints, not freedom. Freedom is also a condition for the exercise of power. It can mean glance, gaze, look which do not have the abstract connotations that the word has in French.
Foucault uses the word to refer to the fact that it is not just the object of knowledge which is constructed but also the knower. Clinical medicine at the end of the eighteenth century set much store on visibility — on looking and seeing and on visible symptoms genealogy Genealogy is the term Foucault uses to describe his historical method during the s.
He later expanded his definition to encompass the techniques and procedures which are designed to govern the conduct of both individuals and populations at every level not just the administrative or political level. The episteme which describes scientific forms of knowledge is a subset of this. He argues that what is most human about man is his history.
He discusses the notions of history, change and historical method at some length at various points in his career. He uses history as a means of demonstrating that there is no such thing as historical necessity, that things could have been and could be otherwise. Foucault also linked the death of man to the death of God. He sees identity as a form of subjugation and a way of exercising power over people and preventing them from moving outside fixed boundaries. Iran InFoucault wrote a controversial series of reports on the Iranian revolution.
He also argues that discourse does not underlie all cultural forms. Forms such as art and music are not discursive. On the ways of writing history. Aesthetics, Method and Epistemology. Robert Hurley and others. Allen Lane, Penguin, p. There is a insoluble tension between a system based on law and a system based on medical norms in our legal and medical institutions.
Panopticon, panopticism and surveillance The Panopticon, was a design for a prison produced by Jeremy Bentham in the late eighteenth century which grouped cells around a central viewing tower.
Although the prison was never actually built the idea was used as a model for numerous institutions including some prisons. Foucault uses this as a metaphor for the operation of power and surveillance in contemporary society. One thing that remained constant however, was that philosophy should be firmly rooted in a historical context.
Foucault frequently emphasized that philosophy should deal with the question of what is happening right now. He also defines the task of philosophy as being not a way of reflecting on what is true and what is false, but instead a way of reflecting on our relations to truth and how we should conduct ourselves. Power is not something that is exclusively localized in government and the State which is not a universal essence.
Rather, power is exercised throughout the social body. Power is omnipresent at every level of the social body. Even now, however, remnants of sovereign power still remain in tension with disciplinary power. This idea of politically organizing the day to day conduct of the population is borrowed from the metaphor of the care of a shepherd for his flock and originated in Egyptian, Assyrian, Mesopotamian and Hebrew cultures.
The knowledge gathered in this way further reinforces exercises of power. Semiotext ep. He notes that repressive systems of social control are usually highly rational. The notions of rationality and irrationality, as they were posed by the Frankfurt School, became a fashionable topic of discussion in the late s.
In this context Foucault notes the dangers of describing Reason as the enemy and the equal danger of claiming that any criticism of rationality leads to irrationality. However, recent publications of his lectures reveal fairly developed accounts of the history of Christianity both as a social institution Church and in terms of its internal conceptual apparatus sacraments, the division between clerics and the laity and so on.
Foucault also examines resistances to the pastoral power exercised by the Church such as mysticism, asceticism, and various Gnostic and other heresies. He argues at one point that resistance is co-extensive with power, namely as soon as there is a power relation, there is a possibility of resistance.
If there is no such thing as a society without relations of power, this does not mean that existing power relations cannot be criticized. There is always the possibility of resistance no matter how oppressive the system. In more technical terms, the non-conforming person is not intelligible, i. The disciplinary imperative thus enforces itself by punishment of non-conformers and reward of conformers. The Necessary Condition of Freedom So who has the power to make other people act in a certain way?
In fact, this is a wrong question to ask.
Power/knowledge | Social Theory Rewired
Foucault insists that disciplinary power cannot be possessed, acquired, seized or shared, but has purely structural origins. However, power can factually speaking only be said to exist when materially manifested.Chapter 2.5: Michel Foucault, power
Thus, as material but structural manifestations of its effect rather than ideal, agency-based possession, nobody can be accused of exercising power. Power relations have multiple origins and can only be found at its point of application: In this structuring of the possible field of action, it may seem that power completely does away with the freedom of the subject, that we in this picture become mechanical followers of a disciplinary imperative.
Power is not exercised over wholly passive bodies, but these react and take the imperative and transform it in more or less conforming ways. As the great Foucault scholar Judith Butler puts it, power attaches the subject to its own identity 3. The power imperative that discloses a possible field of action does so in way that makes the subject cling to the act as an act originating from the subject itself.
The freedom that lies in the resistance to every power relation thus becomes a necessary condition for making the subject speak in the name of power, reproducing and strengthening the norm. In this way, the subject is both the target and the vehicle of power 4.
- Foucault on Power Relations
Norms and Efficiency How does such power mechanisms work on a societal level? Though the human being is a social being and it would thus be right to assume that a society is unthinkable without power relations, such a statement may be misleading if we by that imagine a sovereign force, guaranteeing the duration of the state as is the case in the conceptualization of power up until Foucault.
The origins and point of analysis is always the micro-workings of power on individual and local basis. Rather than justifying sovereign juridical power as done by several contract theorists through the history of thought, the point of departure for an analysis of disciplinary power must always be its places of application, i. Instead of analysing political agency of the great political leaders through history, Foucault invites us to consider how social norms and ways of social punishment and construction of possibilities have shaped society and made possible certain structurizations.
Concretely, instead of understanding the current penal system as a rational response to crimes and a way of retaliation, our research should aim at understanding the mechanisms of power, criminalization of the person committing the crime there seems to be a historical shift the deed to the doer of the crimeways that the system developed as a response to fragmented power relations, taking advantage of circumstances, mixing with other power relations, etc.
In short, instead of focusing on political and rational agency, one is to look into the circumstances that made present power relations possible.
Interestingly, it is not the people in power that initialise such marginalisation though they may and often do benefit from itrather the working of power comes from below, circulating amongst individuals without juridical or institutional power; it comes from a multitude of causes that happen to converge in the creation of certain structures and institutions.