From: Asher Haig <ahaig@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sun, 28 Jan 2001 18:33:12 -0500
on 1/28/01 6:16 PM, Bryan C at kirk728@xxxxxxxxxxx wrote:
> I'm still not quite sure I understand. Part of the critique (from
> HARVEX)that I am running states that the plan frames power
> in a flawed way. They see power as primarily flowing from the state
> and as inherently repressive. The evidence says that power is actually
> constructive of identity and of the myth of autonomy. That the
> subject is merely a side-effect of power relations. What I was trying
> to understand is whether F. aknowlaged a limited extent or no extent
> of free will.
Agency = "free will" to some extent - it's the ability as a subject to act.
Foucault acknowledges that there is agency but sees that agency constrained
by different types of relations of power.
I'm not sure (and never have been) why people think it matters what
conception of power people start with. The point is that power is not merely
repressive or sovereign but instead functions in a multiplicity of ways.
That means that it might be repressive but it might also function in the
same time in productive ways.
People critique Foucault for embracing notions of agency (self-construction
and such) while removing the possibility of action by saying that
individuals are constrained by power relations. I believe that this is a
misreading of Foucault in that I don't think Foucault ever claims there is
no such thing as individual action or agency but instead that that agency is
always a certain _type_ of agency, that is constrained and regulated based
on other practices.
I think one thing to think about is that even if the subject is entirely
constructed by relations of power, those relations of power produce a
_democratic_ (whatever that means) subject - ie one who is not only
intended, but in fact _required_ to make "choices." The question seems to be
where those choices come from and how they are made.
Asher Haig ahaig@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx