Re: What do you mean - power?

Hi, folks.

Greg McSweeney brought about the panopticon metaphor in the discussion
about power, and I tend to agree that this is a key approach. Unlike
someone else stated, F _does_ acknowledges domination, if not exploitation
(that sounded like a - not too good - marxistic attempt to criticism).

One shouldn't forget the relationship of this metaphor with discipline,
a notion that is, IMHO, at the very heart of F's description of power
microphysics. We should not forget that disciplining isn't restricted
to convicted "criminals", but quite on the contrary. One very important
area of disciplinarization (does that word exist?) is medicine.

Through medical knowledge/power it is possible to rule over populations,
determining almost every aspect of living: what one should eat, what
kind of work should one do, what kind of sexual engagement one should
have and so forth. On the other hand, this disciplinary action faces
resistances, like when people seek non-official medical practices, for
instance, or just plainly refuse to adopt some degree "healthier" practices.

One possible correlation of this account of power clashes would be Gramsci's
notion of hegemony, and how it's attained and sustained. My ex-supervisor,
in her PhD thesis (dealing with medical institutions) did use such
approach. Orthodox marxists didn't quite like it at the time... :)


Kenneth Rochel de Camargo, Jr. MD PhD
Technical Coordinator - UnATI (Old Age Open University)
Research Associate - Instituto de Medicina Social
UERJ (Rio de Janeiro State U.) - Brazil
Bitnet: kenneth at bruerj.bitnet
Internet: kenneth at


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