[EN] Theory of power (Foucault)

Foucault (1926-1984) was a philosopher, writer, political activist, who worked on understanding the relationship between power and knowledge… and how they are used as a form of social control through societal institution.


The History of Madness (Foucault, 1961)
The Order of Things (1966)
The Archaeology of Knowledge (1969)

Theory of power

In social science and politics, power is the social production of an effect that determines the capacities, actions, beliefs, or conduct of actors. Foucault has a different approach…

Foucault’s own theory of power begins on micro-level, with singular “force relations”. [A] “force relation” [is] “whatever in one’s social interactions that pushes, urges or compels one to do something.” […] force relations are an effect of difference, inequality or unbalance that exists in other forms of relationships (such as sexual or economic).

Force, and power, is however not something that a person or group “holds” (such as in the sovereign definition of power), instead power is a complex group of forces that comes from “everything” and therefore exists everywhere.

[…] relations of power always result from inequality, difference or unbalance also means that power always has a goal or purpose.

Power comes in two forms: tactics and strategies. Tactics is power on the micro-level, which can for example be how a person chooses to express themselves through their clothes. Strategies on the other hand, is power on macro-level, which can be the state of fashion at any moment. Strategies consist of a combination of tactics.