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Foucault, law, and power: A reassessment

Wickham, G. (2006) Foucault, law, and power: A reassessment. Journal of Law and Society, 33 (4). pp. 596-614.

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After raising doubts about Foucault's approach to law-power, in the light of various acts of religion-inspired violence on and after 11 September 2001, a case is made against this approach, based on the charge that Foucault ties law far too tightly to what he calls negative power. He makes law part of juridico-sovereignty power, a form of power he regards as outmoded, with an outmoded commitment to sovereignty and the state. It is argued that in attempting to separate law from what he sees as the positive power of modern governmentality, Foucault never understands law's role as a part of a crucial balance between political power, military power, the social, the cultural, the legal, and the economic - a balance that tries to achieve both individual freedom and the security to enjoy that freedom. An alternative way of understanding law, and of understanding sovereignty and the state - the state under the rule of law - is presented as a much better route to an appreciation of law's part in the balance.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Social Sciences and Humanities
Publisher: Blackwell Publishing Inc.
Copyright: © 2006 Cardiff University Law School.
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