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Published by: oliverr93 on Oct 18, 2010
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French Historian and philosopher

³What is to be understood by the disciplining of societies in Europe since the eighteenth century is not, of course, that the individuals who are part of them become more and more obedient, nor that all societies become like barracks, schools or prisons; rather, it is that an increasingly controlled, more rational and economic process of adjustment has been sought between productive activities, communications networks, and the play of power relations´ ± Michael Foucault

‡ Old models of power (such as marxism) tended to argue that power was held exclusively by dominant groups in society ± e.g. - power could only be exercised by the rich ruling class who owned the means of production; and for feminists, power was something held by men. These kinds of models would also have to rely on stable and clear-cut ideas of identities: no confusions as to whether people are ruling class or workers, male or female, straight or gay.

‡ Foucault ideasd about power go completely against this - suggesting that power is something which can be e used and deployed by particular

people in specific situations, which itself will produce other reactions and resistances; and isn't tied to specific groups or identities.f
‡ These ideas about structures of power fit in well with developments in theories such as feminism, where it has been noted that 'women' are (obviously) not one unified group, as radical feminists had suggested, and that a white middle-class woman, say, will have much less in common with a poor woman in the Third World than that woman's male friends.

‡ In a sense, Foucault ³pulls the carpet´ from under radical theories such as Marxism which we would normally like, for being on the side of the underdog and opposed to social domination.

‡ And so Foucault¶s ideas don't actually kill feminism or Marxism, they just force them to become more interesting, complex and realistic ± using the idea that identities aren't fixed, that power differences change in different situations, that your destiny and power and life are not determined by a few supposedly descriptive 'facts' about yourself such as gender, class, ethnicity, age and so on.

History Of Modern Sexuality - Foucault's book suggested modern control of sexuality parallels modern control of criminality by making sex (like crime) an object of allegedly scientific disciplines, which both offer knowledge and domination of their objects. Not only is there control exercised via others' knowledge of individuals; there is also control via individuals' knowledge of themselves. Individuals internalize the norms laid down by the sciences of sexuality and monitor themselves in an effort to conform to these norms. Thus, they are controlled not only as objects of disciplines but also as self-scrutinizing and self-forming subjects. ‡ Again the idea that identity is free-floating and not connected to an 'essence', but instead more of a performance given to the world reoccurs.

‡ This makes sense ± Foucault, being a historian, looked at societies such as Ancient Greece to justify this. ‡He also looked at the impact of religion on sex being like crime.

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