Social Interaction & Power

It seems to me to be extremely important to always add the following
>to Foucault's reading of power: that while knowledge and power are
>co-extensive, and while power displays itself in every act of cognition, it
>is enormously important to attend to the specifics of how this power is
>enacted, the way in which it takes shape, how specific objects, identities,
>texts, persons are codified, normalized, organized and monitored. It's not
>that power exists "behind" or "in back of" these processes; rather, these
>processes _are_ power, and the way in which this occurs is remarkably
>specific, concrete, local.

I'm not up to speed on Foucault jargon and probably not as familiar
with the texts as many of you, but I have been taking classes with Dreyfus
and Wacquant here at Berkeley and those discussions have lead me to venture
the following interpretation of power.
It seems to me that social interaction demands a coordination of
behavior and that coordination is both enabling and disabling. It is
disabling because biologically possible modes of acting and being are
either overlooked or ruled inapproriate. It is enabling because (echoing
Kant) the kind of existence we share in communities is creates a miriad of
possible ways of acting out our lives which are not options to the isolated
My thesis is that the more people want to reap out the productive
potential in social interaction, the more they must assent to and conform
to the patterns of action which make this interaction possible, the more
they must disciplen themselves and/or be disciplened, and/or disciplen
others in the direction of that social goal.
The immanence of power is due to the fact that the constraints of
social interaction are woven into the social fabric. In itself, power is
neither good or bad, it is simply a social fact. Clearly individuals and
groups seek to shape the manner in which action is coordinated to their
private benefit and comfort, but even the people who enjoy the best
position on the social field and who reap the most social capital from that
position (Bourdieu), are still subject to the broader disciplen of the

Hagen Finley
Berkeley, California


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