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Power and Knowledge(VC OPARH, 2007)

Power and Knowledge(VC OPARH, 2007)

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Published by vince oparah
Power and Knowledge as iluminated by Focault and Gramsci. Knowlege as a subjugated.
Power and Knowledge as iluminated by Focault and Gramsci. Knowlege as a subjugated.

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Published by: vince oparah on Jun 09, 2009
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05/11/2014

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1This essay will discuss the meaning of the concepts of Power and Knowledge as Foucaultunderstands them and also elaborate how he uses these concepts to explain how modern societyis controlled. Firstly, this paper will begin with the concept of knowledge and link it up with theconcept of power as Foucault understands them. On the second part, the evolvement of powerwhich has a reciprocal relationship will be elaborated to explain how modern society is controlledbefore concluding with a suggestion that the views of this author go a long way to explainingsome of the power relations in present times.Foucault (2001) in his book 
Power/Knowledge
and to some extent his other books
Truth and Power 
and
Two Lectures
both of 2002 began his concept of Knowledge and argues thatknowledge begins with the “return of knowledge or the insurrection of subjugated knowledges”(2001: 70). In this concept of knowledge according to Foucault, there are two types of knowledges encompassing erudition or historical knowledge which existed and still exist butwere disguised by intellectuals as if those knowledges are theirs by giving them differentmeanings. The second type of knowledge is naïve knowledge, disqualified or unpopularknowledge only acclaimed as true or popular knowledges by hierarchy of knowledge by sciences(Foucault, 2001). These two types of knowledges can be explained in today’s society in whichone can have some brilliant ideas to solve a problem in the society but this idea will not belistened to because the person is not educated and therefore is regarded as not qualified to offersuggestions and the ideas should not be listened to. Secondly, science has rendered anythingunorthodox to be poison with regard to medicine. There are sicknesses that are not cured withmodern medicine which can be cured with a holistic approach but because second opinion does
 
2not matter in modern sciences, the traditional healers and forklore medicines are relegated to thebackground because they are not in the hierarchy of modern medicine (Gilbert et al., 2002).Foucault (2001) idea of subjugated knowledge was concerned with the “historical knowledge of struggles” (p. 71) in areas of erudition and suggested the use of genealogy to unearth theseknowledges. According to him, the focus should not be on big abstract and theoretical questionsof what is power and where does it come from? But, he discovers power as coming from micro-physics level which is politics of everyday life. This micro-physics level has to do with concreteand material questions and not Grand theory of Gramsci or Chodorrow’s theory of patriarchy butthe fact that power is never fixed and stable. Accordingly,
…genealogy should be seen as a kind of attempt to emancipate historical knowledges from that subjugation, to render them, that is capable of opposition and struggle against the coercion of atheoretical, unitary, formal and scientific discourse
(
Foucault, 2001: 71 and 2002).
 
More explanation of this micro-physics level will be discussed in concept of power in page fourof this paper. Meanwhile, knowledge becomes a means to catogorise society; define norms, valueand laws according to Foucault thereby producing power relations. Foucault pointed out therelationship between power and knowledge by saying that
“…power produces knowledge (and not simply by encouraging it because it serves power or by applyingit because it is useful); that power and knowledge directly imply one another: that there is no power relation without the correlation constituting of field of knowledge nor knowledge that does not presupposeand constituted as the same time power relations
[1995: 27 and 2002].
 
 
3Foucault is of the assertion from the above quote that knowledge produces power and powerproduces knowledge with both reciprocating each other. So goes the popular saying that“knowledge is power”. This concept of power is discussed in details below starting with theevolvement of power overtime in its
 
modern form.
 
In this paragraph, Foucault talks about powerbeing source of sovereignty and control by leaders in earlier stage of power as a concept. Powerwas used as a repressive means to control and rule people with individual’s body targeted forpunishment by means of torture. Torture was used to get confessions from “patients” (Foucault,1995, p. 23) and also used as means of killing offenders through different gradual process. Heuses the word “patients” to describe law breakers with the society institutionalized into hospital,prisons and mental institutions. More about institutions will be discussed in page four of thispaper.
 
Laws were so repressive that a mere suspect can lose his life while being interrogated just toforce confession out from the suspect irrespective of his innocence. It is very ironic that one isforced to make confession over a crime one did not commit. Power was very negative onpeople’s lives as the case was because it did not stop people from committing crimes. Torturesand executioners apply the laws to extreme on orders from the leader. This system takes a longtime, resources and energy to administer. For example, instead of passing judgments on peopleand kill them on one single process when found guilty, the leader will prefer to look into the casefor a long period of time before doing a public execution. Executions were done as a spectacularevents and galleries (Foucault, 1995).

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