Foucault's Theory Of Disciplinary Power

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Foucault describes the notion of disciplinary power as a modern form of power which can be described as being productive rather than repressive (Hook, 2004). This is done in the sense of ‘bring things into being’, and producing both the discipline of psychology as knowledge as well as subjective effects. Subject effects include individuality and the soul (Hook, 2004). Hook (2004) further states that disciplinary power is related to a set of techniques, these being certain assessments and procedures that treat subjects while measuring and monitoring them. This is done so as to normalise deviant subjects further. Disciplinary power manifests itself through the observations of a hierarchical society, which creates an overarching visibility of…show more content…
Foremost, an advantage of Foucault’s concept is that Foucault believes that power possesses a more discursive aspect and can therefore act as productive as well as positive force on society (Hook, 2004). Foucault views power as productive and positive whereas most authors prior to Foucault have viewed power as negative and repressive. An additional advantage of Foucault’s concept is that a genealogical account is offered (Gaventa, 2003). This means that Foucault offers a fundamental historical critique which looks at the forgotten origins of human sciences (Hook, 2004). The purpose of genealogy is to critique the present and those aspects that are taken for granted. It also indicates how common knowledge is used to conceal the functioning of power (Hook, 2004). It uses essential disunions of the past in order to undermine the certainties of the present (Gaventa, 2003). This is done in place of looking for the truths of…show more content…
This leads the concepts of power to shift away from theories that associate power with just the economy and the state. It thus moves towards an ideal beneath which power functions at the most micro level of social relations (Gaventa, 2003). This is a pro because instead of ignoring the power hierarchies between individuals and the various power dynamics within society, Foucault essentially focuses on them. Other critiques have failed to mention historical contextualisation and have been inclined to occur in isolation from questions that regard the broader production of knowledge (Hook, 2004). This helps us to understand power relations and hierarchies better within society. Although the presences of these advantages are clear, Foucault’s concept of disciplinary power has also been critiqued by many. Firstly, Foucault’s analysis of disciplinary power was developed in as well as for the European context, and therefore seems to lack any relevance within the context of Southern Africa (Hook, 2004). Therefore, his theory is not universal and cannot be related to contexts outside of

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