Foucault and the Theories of Power and Identity Essay

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Foucault and the Theories of Power and Identity

Foucault believed that power is never in any one person?s hands, it does not show itself in any obvious manner but rather as something that works its way into our imaginations and serves to constrain how we act. For example in the setting of a workplace the power does not pass from the top down; instead it circulates through their organizational practices. Such practices act like a grid, provoking and inciting certain courses of action and denying others. Foucault considers this as no straightforward matter and believes that it rests on how far individuals interpret what is being laid down as 'obvious' or 'self evident', institutional power works best when all parties accept it
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Although power is seen as an unrestricted issue it is still viewed by Foucault as a stabilising force that leaves little room for manoeuvre, the way in which this is done is by, for example, a workplace closing down possibilities, inciting or inducing a certain course of action as oppose to proliferating them, this is the way in which they keep a hold on peoples lives, ordering them in a particular direction. It is at this point, Foucault argues, where the workforce feels as if they are being monitored, that they ?bring themselves into line and assume the role that has been indirectly carved out for them.?2 In other terms ?power works on and through agents in ways which structurally limit what they otherwise might have done.?3 ?This method of domination is that it is through people working on their own conduct that they bring themselves to order. At the level of the ongoing running of institutions on a day-to-day basis, individuals internalise what is expected of them because it seems the right and proper thing to do. If this sounds less than total domination, that is because at best it represents a modest form of domination.?4 Domination, for Foucault, characterizes the outcome of institutional power, and is a state of affairs brought about by indirect techniques and received truths, rather than by organized rule bound practices. Institutional power is not so much a hierarchical system with clearly defined lines

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