Literature Study GuidesThe Subject And Power

The Subject and Power | Study Guide

Michel Foucault

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Course Hero. "The Subject and Power Study Guide." January 4, 2019. Accessed July 6, 2020.


Course Hero, "The Subject and Power Study Guide," January 4, 2019, accessed July 6, 2020,



Michel Foucault

Year Published





History, Philosophy

At a Glance

Michel Foucault wrote "The Subject and Power" toward the end of his life. It was published as an afterword in a 1982 analysis of Foucault's work, Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics by American philosopher Hubert L. Dreyfus and anthropologist Paul Rabinow. The essay is a summary of the previous 20 years of his work and is a discussion of his work's central themes of power and what it is to be the subject of power. Although Foucault identifies those subjected to power as his central theme, he spends most of the essay discussing power, which he views as a social relation. He provides a description of power relationships, the creation of subjects, and a historical sketch of how the primary modes of power in the modern world (various forms of what he calls "pastoral power," rooted in religion and government) came into being. He also proposes that power relationships are best studied by analyzing examples of struggle, which bring to light the nature of the relationship through confrontation.

About the Title

The title introduces the two main themes in Foucault's essay and in his wider work. Foucault aims to study the phenomenon of power as a social relationship. He argues that these relationships turn people into the subjects of power, not merely as victims of oppression imposed from above, but as participants in a social dynamic.


This study guide for Michel Foucault's The Subject and Power offers summary and analysis on themes, symbols, and other literary devices found in the text. Explore Course Hero's library of literature materials, including documents and Q&A pairs.

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