Thursday, February 10, 2005

Foucault's power/knowledge

Foucault (writing in the early 70s) sees power (the ability to suppress, dominate) as established through discourse. What is discourse? This is comprised of practices obeying certain rules; the normalized worldview.
F says that human understanding exists in discourse.
Discourse becomes a tactical dimension of how power relations work between institutions, groups, and individuals.
Those who are in power have specialist knowledge – “the production of knowledge and the exercise of administrative power intertwine, and each begins to enhance the other.” Hence the power/knowledge complex- a flux made of power and knowledge that influence each other.
Thus, rules/laws(?) are power laden. There is no objective truth- we just give in to such authoritative concepts to weigh upon us and our actions.
“Disciplinary power” is comprised of the forces that make you buy into the hegemonic discourse. (e.g. the teaching of history in public schools, in a manner that is congruent with the government’s prescriptions)
But, this disciplinary power is not pervasive enough to keep insurrectionary discourse subjugated. Insurrectionary discourse? That which is not the mainstream- “local knowledge,” le savoir des gens, which is on the margin, such as Ayurvedic medicine in relief to the behemoth Western medicine. Gay marriage even. Something that is revolutionary, that challenges the status quo.


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