Strategies of Governance

Michel Foucault on Power

in Theoria

How and why is it that we in the West, in our arduous and incessant search for truth, have also built into and around ourselves intricate and powerful systems intended to manage all that we know and do? This, arguably, was the key problem to which Foucault applied himself. Central to his critical, historical ontology of Western, and especially Enlightenment, reason is an investigation of the constitutive relations between the operation of power relations, the production of knowledge, and ways of relating ethically to oneself and others. This article examines Foucault’s account of the relations of power which are said to underpin contemporary thought and to regulate and subject modern individuals. Contrary to the belief that Foucault’s conception of power is dogmatic and all-encompassing, leaving no room for progressive resistance or change and flowing over into the realm of theory such that truth itself becomes questionable, it is argued here that Foucault offers us an analysis of relations of power as ‘strategies of governance’ which depend for their operation on the existence of free subjects capable not only of resistance but of positively producing effects of truth in reality.

Theoria

A Journal of Social and Political Theory

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