Michel Foucault's Analysis

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The influential work of Michel Foucault has provided academic literature a unique theoretical understanding of the self and its relation to subjectivity and power. As Abercrombie, Hill, and Turner (1986, p. 43) stated, Foucault’s work has greatly contributed to the studies on the self, specifically targeting its history. This paper will explore the criticisms regarding Foucault’s ideas about the subject and power. More specifically, this paper will discuss his claims about disciplinary power and its influence on society, the function of surveillance, the confession of the self, and governmentality. Many of his critics have negatively evaluated his claims, suggesting they were vague and problematic in regards to feminist notions. Finally, a …show more content…
170). In other words, discipline is a form of power that is dispersed upon all individuals to create “docile bodies” that are obedient and self-regulating (Foucault 1977, p. 138). Power is no longer operated by a higher authority or sovereign, but rather it is internalised in the individual. The self becomes “subjected, used, transformed, and improved”, which in effect makes individuals more productive, and hence a disciplined regulated society is established (Foucault 1977, p. 136). His account on power has prompted many negative criticisms. Fraser (1981, p. 286) argues that Foucault’s idea of power is too simplistic and lacks depth. Rather than distinguishing between the different forms of power, such as oppression and authority, Foucault sees and refers to power as one whole entity (Fraser 1981, p. 286). Hence, what Foucault lacks in his analysis on power is a “normative criteria” that differentiates the forms of power that can be classified as appropriate or deplorable (Fraser 1981, p. 286). Patton (1994, p. 66) also agrees with Fraser’s (1981) criticism, stating that this is one of his limitations. Thus, one could question whether Foucault’s concept of disciplinary power should be accepted or unaccepted by society based on his lack of a

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