Skip to content

The concept of power in Michel Foucault

Michel Foucault was a French philosopher, historian, critic, and sociologist, famous for his radical left politics and for his association with structuralist, post-structuralist, and post-modernist movements. This has had a strong influence not only in the philosophical and psychological field , but also in a wide range of humanistic and social scientific disciplines.

Foucault’s theories have greatly influenced the training we have about the understanding of power. This training moves away from the analysis of those who use power as an instrument of coercion, but it also moves away from the structures in which people who take power to coerce act.

What is power for Michel Foucault?

Foucault’s work marks a radical departure from previous ways of conceiving power and cannot be easily integrated with previous ideas of it, since the concept of power is somewhat diffuse and more discursive than purely coercive – understanding as discursive, the language, ideas and values ​​presented by institutions and societies.

Foucault conceptualizes power as something multiple, something that  is everywhere,  that is constituted by various accepted forms of knowledge, therefore it cannot be structured.

During the course of January 14, 1976, Foucault, M. tells us in his own words: “What I have tried to analyze until now, roughly, since 1970-71, has been the how of power; I have tried to capture its mechanisms between two points of relationship, two limits: on the one hand, the rules of law that formally delimit power, on the other, the effects of truth that this power produces, transmits and which in turn reproduce that power for power has the power to impose the truth. A triangle then: power, right, truth ”.

For Foucault, power establishes a direct relationship between struggle and force, and he himself questions the idea that power is exercised by individuals or groups through acts of episodic domination, since he finds that it is often dispersed and omnipresent.

Relationship between power, law and truth

Power relations go through our disciplinary and disciplined body, generating social relations, and why are social relations constituted if not by the circulation of discourses? Real speeches.

Foucault tells us that we are subjected to the production of truth from power, since power imposes its truth, gains leadership and stifles other truths through various forms. He also proposes that we can exercise power only through the production of truth, since truth makes law and incites results of power.

You may also be interested in:   Types of thinking

For this same author , power is what makes us what we are, it is a power that is exercised . An exercise that unfolds between a public law of sovereignties and a polymorphous mechanics of disciplines. The law and the disciplines make the field for the exercise of power.

The disciplines are producers of knowledge, of knowing not about the legal rule, the law, but precisely about the norm, the normalization processes. And following the same line, Foucault proposes that for the State to function there must be a man and a woman, an adult, a child and specific configurations of power.

Power works from the effects of it , it is not a construction from individual or collective wills, but a construction of effects of exercises of it .

It should be noted that when Foucault refers to power, he speaks of a much broader issue than what we can understand as the accessibility to power. But we bring it, because that power, -which we can define and see from different perspectives, perhaps contrary to Foucoultianism- cannot be denied, since it produces effects, effects that fall under the non-naive gaze of the disciplinary discourses that construct truths that go far beyond what is “normal”. For normality is not the good thing, much less the justification of power, as Foucault says, but it precisely unfolds the political scene through the normal and the abnormal.

Power is always there and never outside , says Foucault, multi-morph power relations can be used in strategies, but where there is power there is resistance and this is very important. Following in the same line, according to the same author, it is not about making truth independent from the power system, since it is power, but about separating the power from the truth from the current forms of hegemony, whether social, cultural , economical.

Website | + posts

Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of ​​Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *