The Mesh of Power – Michel Foucault

I am going to attempt to develop – or better, indicate the direction in which we will be able to develop – an analysis of power that would not simply be a negative, juridical idea of power, but rather, the idea of a technology of power. We frequently find among the psychoanalysts, psychologists and sociologists this idea according to which power is essentially rule, law, prohibition, that which marks the limit between the permitted and the forbidden. I believe that this conception, generally understood to be developed by ethnology at the end of the 19th century, was incisively formulated. Ethnology always tried to view systems of power in societies different from ours as being systems of rules. And we ourselves, when we try to reflect upon our society, on the manner in which power is exercised here, we essentially construct this analysis from a juridical idea: where is power, who holds power, what are the rules governing (les règles qui régissent) power, what is the system of law that power establishes within the social body.  Thus, we always perform, for our society, a juridical sociology of power, and, when we study societies different from ours, we perform an ethnology that is essentially an ethnology of the rule, an ethnology of prohibition.


Read also: Towards a Socialist Art of Government – Michel Foucault’s “The Mesh of Power”


About Giorgio Bertini

Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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