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Foucault and Identity

 

Explanations > Identity > Foucault and Identity

Description | Discussion | See also

 

Description

Practicing discourse

Foucault rejected the view of a person having an inner and fixed 'essence' that is the person's identity. He identified the self as being defined by a continuing discourse in a shifting communication of oneself to others.

He also rejected common notions of people having some form of implicit power, replacing this with the idea of power as a technique or action in which people engage. Power is thus exercised but not possessed.

Technologies of the self

He described technologies of the self as ways individuals act upon themselves to produce particular modes of identity and sexuality. These 'technologies' include methods of self-contemplation, self-disclosure and self-discipline. They may be found in autobiographies, diaries, blogs, etc.

Foucault also describes technologies of the self as the way in which individuals work their way into discourse.

Discussion

The classical view of identity is a something that is inherent and fixed in some way or part. Foucault's idea of practices increases the ways that the individual can be constituted in and through culture.

Foucault's notion of fluid power is important as it denies the older notion of power being possessed by the few and elite, with a large and powerless majority.

See also

Michel Foucault, Foucault on institutions

 

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