Power

  • Mark Cousins
  • Athar Hussain
Chapter
Part of the Contemporary Social Theory book series

Abstract

The point has already been made that Foucault sees the question of power as central to his later writings. Yet there is in Foucault’s writings no theory of power, not even a sketch of such a theory. But this is not because Foucault has directly broached the question of power only in the History of Sexuality, which is merely a sketch of the detailed analyses yet to appear, and in interviews and published lecture-notes. Rather, because Foucault regards any approach to the question of power through the question ‘what is power?’ as misguided, as a discursive strategy condemned in advance to set the analysis of power or a wrong course (PK: 87–8, 198–9 & The Subject and Power, V.66: 785–6). Whatever remarks Foucault offers on the question of power are either negative remarks dispelling some of the usual perspectives on power relations or general protocols for the analysis of power relations. Some of these general protocols follow directly from the negative remarks, some recommend a particular perspective in preference to other perspectives on power and the rest consist of paradigmatic examples of how and how not to approach the question of power. They lack the coherence and formalization normally expected of a theory; he himself offers them not as a theory of power but as a tool-kit for the analysis of power relations — what he terms an ‘analytic of relations of power’ (PK: 199).

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Copyright information

© Mark Cousins and Athar Hussain 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark Cousins
  • Athar Hussain

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