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Michael Foucault's work on the history of subjectivity - Essay Example

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Michael Foucault's work on the history of subjectivity

This dissertation shall discuss the various aspects relevant in the study with especial reference to the social theorist Foucault, one of the philosophers who have contributed to the reformation of modern geography with regard to individual subjectivity and identity.
Michel Foucault, a French philosopher and theorist, initiated a lasting relationship between the post-structural movements and concepts like, genealogy of power; the body and sexuality in relation to power; power in relation to politics and freedom; subjectivity, identity and resistance; feminism etc. Michel Foucault has to his credit the following works: The History of Sexuality; Discipline and Punish, Politics; Philosophy, Culture: Interviews and Other Writings Knowledge, etc; Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics; Michel Foucault: Power/Knowledge. While some people find Foucault's analysis of the relations between power and the body enlightening, some others have criticized his theories, drawing attention to its limitations. It is interesting to note that, even though Foucault has made very few references to the female gender or women in general in his writings, his postulations on the relationship between power, the body and sexuality have set off wide-spread feminist interest. Foucault has also studied the power of discipline and training with relevance to the society in general and how it becomes an important tool in the hand of the state to control and inspect.
'Genealogy' of Power and the Modern Subject.
Foucault's inference of power has diminished individuals to a subservient status - 'docile bodies' and as victims of disciplinary technologies. Foucault has analyzed power in various perspectives and remarks that modern power-exorcists function, in effect, to produce people as subjects who are both the objects and vehicles of power. He claims that the relationship "of power and a strategy of struggle there is a reciprocal appeal, a perpetual linking and a perpetual reversal. At every moment the relationship of power may become a confrontation between two adversaries. Equally, the relationship between adversaries in society may, at every moment, give place to the putting into operation of mechanisms of power" (Foucault, 1982). The laws and regulations that govern the society at large are very important, and they become the primary tools at the hands of the government to exercise control, to bring about order and general conformity among the subjects of the state. According to Foucault, a "society without power relations" cannot exist, or at best can be only "abstraction". The works 'Discipline and Punish' and 'The History of Sexuality' delineates the on-set of some of the early practices, then existent forms of knowledge, social institutions and instruments of government which have played a role in the shaping of modern cultural Europe. In his method of study, he has employed a new angle to the conservative form of historical analysis, which he has named 'genealogical'. Genealogy is a kind of critical study of history, because it attempts to analyze the situation of 'the present time, and of what we ...Show more


Michael Foucault's work on the history of subjectivity, governmentality and space has been highly influential in shaping the geographers understanding of the relationship between modernity and identity. Discuss
The Twentieth Century has opened the gateways of a modern world, by ushering in new technology and scientific advancement…
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Michael Foucaults work on the history of subjectivity essay example
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