Michel Foucault: How Discourse Is Guided By The People In Power
The word ‘discourse’ becomes a significant part of theoretical and academic discourse with Michel Foucault. Foucault explains how discourse is guided by the people in power: ruling elite or state and that through discourse the power is exercised by them. It is a discourse that constructs the reality, that we see or believe to be real, maintains the slave-owner relationship between state and people, and constructs and enslaves our consciousness.
Generally, it so happens in a society that various thought or theories are not accepted in the society at a particular point of time for their being, let’s say, anti-dominant discourse; for instance, the theory that the Sun is the center of our solar system couldn’t be accepted in medieval times for it being against Christianity which held power and constructed discourse during those time. It is in this sense that Foucault is interested in history to explore how discourse changes throughout history which he calls discursive change.
Though Foucault always rejected the labels which have been associated with him, he is often considered structuralist, poststructuralist, postmodernist, new historicist, etc. Associating him to any one of the above schools of thought would be a mistake as his works revolve around almost all existing, not school of thought, but discipline. Our concern, however, is to see him as a poststructuralist because, as matter of fact, his theories contribute to the field of poststructuralism.
Structuralism tries to break the idea of having universal truth but ends up creating its own universal claims. Poststructuralist theorist, like Foucault, argues against those theories. Truth, in its fundamental sense, is criticized by Foucault to not have any universal authenticity. He argues that every truth is a construction of the discourse, that changes from time to time and, hence, truth must not be understood from the view of essentialism.
It is generally understood that knowledge is free and is beyond anybody’s control. Also, that knowledge is accessible to everyone and that knowledge belongs to individuals’ domain. Foucault critiques it saying that knowledge is also control by the one that reigns over the country, institution, or discipline. Hence, knowledge has its own political dimensions; therefore, Foucault states: “Knowledge is Power,’ meaning that the one that possesses knowledge has power over the ones who don’t have it; for example, reservation of the biblical knowledge for the Church in medieval era helped Christianity to control over its followers.
Based on the theory of the Panopticon by Michel Foucault, this essay considers the view that the existence of power is intrinsically linked to the existence of resistance to it, with his idea being true for power within the media as well. I argue that power is part of the function of the media as it is for any institution and therefore there will always be some form of resistance such as unplugging movements or Edward Snowden’s actions against the...
In modern society, the dominant social account of ‘madness’, the attached characteristics, meanings, and treatment is monopolized by psychiatry and medicine, reducing the basis for its existence simply to biological differences. Historically, individuals were provided with socially produced images and descriptions of specific characteristics of madness and insanity, particularly in Western society, beginning with the Biblical imagery of madness as generated by possession by the Devil or promoted by a divine dissatisfaction. The notion of the latter image is continued...
In this essay, I will argue that Foucault’s two registers of the modern machine-body – the anatomico-metaphysical and the technical-political, although distinct in construction share a common purpose to achieve their respective goals. The approach they have in common is to dehumanize the body and use the docile body for manipulation. To illustrate this, I will draw on Descartes and in particular Leder and discuss the functions Foucault’s two registers serve in the context of administering punishment and the role...
In the article, “Millions Living Above the Poverty Line Also Struggle to Get By”, the author states, “The large share of the population struggling to pay bills includes Americans of all types, the WOW report found. More than one-fifth of homes headed by a college graduate and 24 percent of Americans working full-time can’t make ends meet, according to the report. Those statistics indicate that economic insecurity extends beyond the unemployed or little-educated…(Berman2013).” Victims of these risk factors end up...
Introduction The reflexive game of cultural production invites lawyers and the common hero to use tactics to influence and disrupt the competition to control meaning which underpins the force of law. Legal professionals and ordinary people can interrupt the reflexive structure of the game which perpetuates patterns of cultural production and inequality but only to the extent that they can interpret texts and perform subversive acts to intervene in the production of meaning. This essay explores the regulation of unlawful...
Foucault begins a discussion on the history of sexuality by accusing our societies of hypocrisy and silence about sexuality and says that we are still under the Victorian rule in this Aspect. Then, he makes a simple comparison to sexual discourse in the early seventeenth century and after the appearance of the bourgeoisie. In this comparison, Foucault says that during the seventeenth century, the discourse on sexuality was freer and there was no strictness and reservation compared to the nineteenth...
Foucault (1976) describes biopower as the mechanisms and techniques that manage and control the lives of a population. The powerful statement “to make life, or to let die” (Foucault, 1976), highlights two different ways of looking at biopower and the state. On one hand, the main objective of the state is to make people live and protect them from harm, however, the state also has the power to ignore the pain and suffering of certain groups. I think that the...
Norm Kelly, a famous politician and councilor for the City of Toronto. Not only is he popular within the political community but is a well-liked and trendy figure within the world of social media. Norm Kelly belongs to the Liberal Party of Canada and also represented the City of Scarborough as a councilor as well as a representative for Ward 40 York South-Wieston for the years 2000-2018. Ever since this famous political figure entered the world of Twitter, it became...
Michel Foucault’s 1977 work, Discipline and Punish, philosophically analyses the development of the modern penal system. Foucault’s focus on the social contextualization of power relationships associated with punishment led to numerous new ways of thinking including the carceral continuum. He notes that the continuum acts as a means for the sentencing authority to infiltrate “all those other authorities that supervise, transform, correct [and] improve.” This paper will explore Foucault’s background and conception of carceral continuum, in particular, how contemporary law...
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