[Foucault-L] Dominance I: Whereabouts and Structure

Dear listers,

I am about to write a disquisition on Foucault’s understanding of "dominance". I find it rather intriguing that he, having spent half of his life criticising power, seldomly addressed the "ossified power" i.e. dominance directly.
Since I am not (yet :-) a Foucault-pro I might stumble whilst describing my current state of knowledge, so please correct or comment on anything that might be an error in reasoning, too!

In this posting I will start by merely outlining the "where?" of domination. I am hoping that I will be able to discuss the specific characteristics of domination with you later on.

Generally, 'dominance' always runs on two levels. There is always some kind of ruler, and of course the ruled, which mingle in different combinations or set-ups. As far as I can see, Foucault’s thoughts about dominance can be classified into three different categories.

First, there is the sociopolitical dominance, which would include dominance through (military) threat by victorious powers (occupation etc.), as well as by domestic groupings or powers, which somehow attempt to usurp 'power' (in the classical sense, i.e. dominance). Surveillance states are part of it too, I'd say. The dominance of the general discourse via these methods is the most important act here.
Secondly, there is the dominance with regards to single persons or groups. This would be the case in prisons, asylums etc. This kind of dominance is much more direct. This dominance might be exercised by controlling the time of the ruled, through control via surveillance etc. More apparent than in the first case, this dominance causes reaction in the ruled, i.e. their behaviour adjusts to the conditions (a negative form of self-dominance).
Thirdly I'd identify self-dominance as depicted in Foucault’s work on ethics. But I'm not very familiar with this concept yet, so it is rather a guess. It appears to implement another concept in which the two levels of dominance (see above) are both inside of the person, with a positive outcome (contrary to the other two forms).

After a brief review of Foucault's work, it appears that these three combinations [political/economic/military; (closed) institutions; self-dominance] entail practically everything Foucault has ever said about dominance. Or am I missing something?
I would be grateful for any comments! :-)

Kind regards,

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  • Re: [Foucault-L] Dominance I: Whereabouts and Structure
    • From: David McInerney
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