Foucault: subject and power

June 11, 2008

“Though central to modern notions of individuality and liberty, it should also be noted that the word ‘subject’ also carries connotations of subjection, of being an individual constitued within or by power structures, ‘a subject of the Crown’ for example. So on the one hand this is a concept which constitutes an internal, private sense of self in individuals, but on the other it refers to the positioning of the individual within society. Michel Foucault’s work is particularly influential here, and is central to post-structuralist concepts of subjectivity. He argues that these two concepts of the subject are not contradictory but inseparable: the very rationality celebrated by enlightenment is not a universal principle, but a discourse which positions some individuals as rational but others as criminal or insane (Foucault 1989).”

From: Lister, Martin and Dovey, Jon et.al. (2003), New Media: A Critical Introduction, London: Routledge, p.252

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