Foucault

Foucault - Michel Foucault: An Analysis of Power By:...

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Michel Foucault: An Analysis of Power By: Vincent Mulroe Power can be defined in various ways; the capability of doing something, divinity, the ability to control people in their sayings and/or actions, etc. Within everyday life, the meaning of power is used in different ways. Pastors proclaim, “By the power vested in me,” when announcing matrimony and lawyers state, “It is beyond my power,” if their defendant is ruled guilty by the state of law. In Michel Foucault’s book The Subject and Power , he questions, “What legitimates power? Or we had recourse to ways of thinking about power based on institutional models, that is: What is the state?” Michel Foucault studied how power is more of a relation between individuals than a defined problem, such as institutionalized settings being empowered through law. Foucault first wrote about his studies of power in the book The Subject and Power . Instead of understanding the phenomena of power as a substance, Foucault created a history of different modes of how humans are being made as subjects through power relations. One important point raised is the notion of discourse, which he defines as "the production of knowledge through language." Stuart Hall, an analyzer of Foucault, states “to get a fuller sense of Foucault’s theory of discourse, we must bear the following points in mind; a discourse can be produced by many individuals in different institutionalized settings and discourses are not closed systems.” Institutionalized settings are a major function of how an individual can become a subject, thus they are critically analyzed by Foucault. 1
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Discourse within institutionalized settings, such as families, prisons, hospitals and asylums, are clear examples of how one is made into a subject. Take, for example, the concept of a family, where there are parents and children. Parents often instill knowledge in their children by teaching them through the extent of their own knowledge. Therefore, children are made into subjects for they feel a natural superiority from the parents. The children then base their views on different subjects through the objectification of their parents rather than basing it on reason or other modes of discourse. This is also highly evident in a global sense. Hall states “We not ourselves believe in the natural superiority of the West. But, if we use the discourse of “the West and the Rest” we will necessarily find ourselves speaking from a position that holds that the West is a superior civilization.” This tendency to impose European categories and norms to see differences between countries, the representation of the West creates subjects of other nations to develop a perceived notion of superiority. Furthermore, the idea of discourse is expressed through the concept of
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Foucault - Michel Foucault: An Analysis of Power By:...

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