Sunday, March 19, 2017

Michel Foucault on Technologies of Power - Summary

Michel Foucault discusses the topic of technologies of power in the chapter titled “The Body of the Condemned” in his book  Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison.

Technology of power according to Foucault is the very principle of both the humanization of the penal system and of the knowledge of man (related to his notions of power/knowledge and discipline).

Foucault argues that the history of the penal law and the history of the human sciences derive from a common matrix.

According to Foucault the body itself is invested by power relations. The body is a useful force only if it is both a productive body and a subjected body.

In all forms of punishment, the body is at issue: the body and its forces, their utility and docility, and their distribution and submission. Technologies of power always perform their acts on the body, disciplining it.

"Microphysics of power" is another  key term in Foucault's concept of technologies of power. according to Foucault power exercised on the body is not a property, but a strategy; its effects of domination are attributed not to appropriation, but to dispositions, maneuvers, tactics, techniques. This power is exercised, it is not possessed; it is not the privilege of the dominant class, but an overall effect of its strategic positions.

This power invests the people who “do not have power,” it is transmitted through them and by them. At the same time, people resist the grip of this power.

Body Politic according to Foucault is a set of material elements and techniques that serve as weapons, relays, communication routes, and supports for the power and knowledge relations that invest human bodies and subjugate them by turning them into objects of knowledge (this was a big influence on Butler's Bodies that Matter).