Catalog Home Page

The social must be limited: Some problems with Foucault's approach to modern positive power

Wickham, G. (2008) The social must be limited: Some problems with Foucault's approach to modern positive power. Journal of Sociology, 44 (1). pp. 29-44.

Link to Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1440783307085806
*Subscription may be required

Abstract

Focusing on Foucault's distinction between an older, superseded model - the juridical/sovereignty model - and a newer one - which he refers to by a variety of names, such as disciplinary bio-power, art of government and governmentality - this article seeks, first, to demonstrate that his account of modern positive power is an unsatisfactory explanation of this type of power. It does this by contrasting it with an account that locates modern positive power in a set of early modern limiting mechanisms, mechanisms that actually produced the modern limited domain of the social, the principal object of sociology, initially only as a domain of respite from raging religious violence. On the back of this argument, the article also seeks to show that Foucault's account is politically problematic, in two ways: one, that it is rooted in a tradition of unengaged 'critique' and, two, that it is tied, albeit inadvertently, to totalitarianism.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Social Sciences and Humanities
Publisher: SAGE Publications
Copyright: © 2008 The Australian Sociological Association
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/6720
Item Control Page