Foucault News

News and resources on French thinker Michel Foucault (1926-1984)

Spaaij, R., Knoppers, A., Jeanes, R.
“We want more diversity but…”: Resisting diversity in recreational sports clubs (2020) Sport Management Review, 23 (3), pp. 363-373.

DOI: 10.1016/j.smr.2019.05.007

Open access

Participation in sport is highly valued by governments and policy makers. Policies and programs encourage participation of populations who are underrepresented in sport. In many countries sport participation is possible primarily under the auspices of voluntary sports clubs, many of which name demographic diversity as an organizational value. Underrepresented population groups continue to lag, however, in participating in sports clubs. Change has been slow in coming. Relatively little research focuses on resistance by those in positions of leadership to the entry or involvement of underrepresented or marginalized population groups into sports clubs. The purpose of this paper is to develop insight into why change may be so slow in coming even though demographic diversity is purportedly highly valued. Drawing on Raby’s (2005) conceptualizations of practices of resistance, on empirical research on diversity in recreational sports clubs and on work by Foucault, the authors identify six discursive practices that those in positions of leadership in sport clubs draw on to resist diversity: speech acts, moral boundary work, in-group essentialism, denial/silencing, self-victimization, and bodily inscription. The authors conclude that resistance to diversity in sport clubs has emerged from a confluence of discourses that enable noncompliance at the micro level with the use of a macro-level discourse of diversity. © 2019 The Authors

Author Keywords
Community sport; Discursive practices; Diversity; Leadership; Resistance; Sport organizations

Pinkerton, P.
The biopolitics of the migration-development nexus: Governing migration in the UK (2019) Politics, 39 (4), pp. 448-463.

DOI: 10.1177/0263395718809287

While politicians in the United Kingdom (UK) have engaged in fractious debate over the appropriate way of responding to the myriad issues arising from the so-called migration or refugee crisis in recent years, there is an apparent cross-party consensus regarding the ability of overseas aid and development spending to reduce levels of global economic migration. This suggests that the central tenets of what is known in the policy literature as the ‘migration-development nexus’ have been accepted by the political establishment in the UK, demonstrating a belief that development spending can be used to ameliorate the global economic inequalities seen as giving rise to mass migration. Drawing on Michel Foucault’s concepts of biopolitics, governmentality, and subjectification, this article argues that the migration-development nexus represents a technology for enacting a strategy of governance that operates through a dual process of enticing and maintaining mobile subjects. It is then suggested that in the UK context, this operates through the temporary nature of the time-limited visa regime, which allows migrants from outside the European Union to be ‘governed through mobility’. The article therefore illustrates how mobility can be central to governing logics, as well as something that can exceed them. © The Author(s) 2018.

Author Keywords
biopolitics; Foucault; governance; migration-development nexus; mobility

Index Keywords
European Union, governance approach, migration, refugee, social mobility; United Kingdom

Corfee, F., Cox, L., Windsor, C.
The constitution of space in intensive care: Power, knowledge and the othering of people experiencing mental illness
(2020) Nursing Inquiry, 27 (2), art. no. e12328.

DOI: 10.1111/nin.12328

A sociological conceptualisation of space moves beyond the material to the relational, to consider space as a social process. This paper draws on research that explored the reproduction of legitimated knowledge and power structures in intensive care units during encounters, between patients, who were experiencing mental illness, and their nurses. Semi-structured telephone interviews with 17 intensive care nurses from eight Australian intensive care units were conducted in 2017. Data were analysed through iterative cycling between participants’ responses, the literature and the theoretical framework. The material and relational aspects of space in this context constitute a dynamic process that is concerned with the reproduction of everyday life, the preservation of the biomedical authority of intensive care, and the social othering of people experiencing mental illness. The work of theorists such as Löw, Harvey and Foucault underpins the exploration of space as a multi-dimensional, malleable social process that both produces and is the product of social interaction and the social world. In this paper, we argue that the performative work of knowledge and power production and reproduction, considered here in relation to intensive care spaces, enables ongoing othering and disenfranchisement of people experiencing mental illness. © 2020 John Wiley & Sons Ltd

Author Keywords
consumer; intensive care; mental health; othering; power; space

Rantala, A., Heikkilä, M.
Agency, guidance and gender–interrelated aspects of early childhood education settings (2020) Education 3-13, 48 (4), pp. 483-493.

DOI: 10.1080/03004279.2019.1620305

Social interaction is one of the many things what preschool life is about, and how social life is constituted is of importance to understand. In early childhood education settings, children are guided and fostered by teachers and by each other in different directions. The overall aim of the article is to make a contribution to a deeper understanding of how children’s agency is performed as a constantly gendered social activity and how this is affected by the guidance they receive from teachers. The relationship between agency, gender and guidance is scrutinised. By using Foucault’s concepts discipline and power in combination with understandings of childhood and gender order this is explored. The empirical material consists of ethnographic observations in two preschools, and the results show how agency, gender and guidance need to be understood as relational processes when highlighting aspects of children’s social life in ECE. © 2019, © 2019 ASPE.

Author Keywords
children’s agency; early childhood education; ethnography; gender; guidance; Preschool

Michiel T’Jampens & Jelle Versieren (2020) Entering the Archive: “Il faut défendre la société” and Michel Foucault’s Critical Archeological Inquiry into the History and Method of Genealogy, Critical Horizons,
DOI: 10.1080/14409917.2020.1790753

In “Il faut défendre la société”, Foucault attempted to historicize and criticize Nietzsche’s equating of the social with struggle. In order to do so, Foucault produced a descriptive discursive history of his genealogical project by deploying the method of the critical archaeology. Foucault realized thereinafter that his archaeological exposition of the genealogical discourse in fact laid bare a close historical and conceptual bond between genealogy and modern racial discourses. In the first lectures, Foucault, unearthed the genealogical discourse hidden in the literature written by the nobility as they attempted to resist the centralisation of royal power. In the latter part of his lectures, he described a discursive interplay between genealogy-as-struggle and the biopolitical practices of the modern state. As such, he gave a tentatively description how the modern state inherited and extensively applied the notion of struggle in its biopolitical control on its populations. The immoral and historical consequences of this affinity, resulting in the biopolitics of genocide, warranted Foucault to distance himself from Nietzsche’s concept, which in effect resulted in rethinking the social within the framework of gouvernmentalité, in which struggle was a modality rather than the prime mover of society.

KEYWORDS: Michel Foucault, biopolitics, Friedrich Nietzsche, Henri de Boulainvilliers, absolutism, genealogy

Martin, A.E., Fisher-Ari, T.R., Kavanagh, K.M.
“Our Schools Turned Into Literal Police States.”: Disciplinary Power and Novice Teachers Enduring a Cheating Scandal
(2020) Educational Studies – AESA, 56 (3), pp. 306-329.

DOI: 10.1080/00131946.2020.1745809

The voices of teachers experiencing and reacting to highly-publicized testing scandals are rarely heard, despite high-levels of criticism and blame from many stakeholders. Drawing on Foucault’s conception of disciplinary power (hierarchical observation, normalizing judgment, and examination) (1975/1995), we analyzed 5,897 written reflections from 38 novice teachers working in 26 different elementary schools in an urban school district as teachers wrote about their experiences of teaching during a high-profile, high-stakes standardized test cheating scandal. Reflections depicted chronic manifestations of student and teacher stress and pressure, rigid testing procedures, mandated fear-based training, miscommunications, disrupted routines, developmentally inappropriate practices, and surveillance. These findings complicate dominant narratives about the cheating scandal and call all stakeholders to disrupt current discourses of accountability in order to recreate schools as liberatory and ethical spaces. In an era where accountability policies claim to work toward the goals of equal education for all and social justice, the effects of said policies must be critically examined by policymakers at all levels.

Flacks, S.
Law, necropolitics and the stop and search of young people
(2020) Theoretical Criminology, 24 (2), pp. 387-405.

DOI: 10.1177/1362480618774036

Stop and search can harm young people, damage relations between police and the community and alienate ethnic and racial minorities. In Mohidin and another v Commissioner of the Police of the Metropolis and others, a group of minors who had been stopped, searched and, in some cases, falsely imprisoned, assaulted and racially abused by officers, were awarded damages for the distress and pain suffered. In this article, the case will be read not for the tortuous legal consequences of police actions towards youth, or members of the public in general, nor for the culpability of any of the parties concerned, but for how the use of ‘lawful’ police powers on young people was framed and justified by both officers and the courts. It is argued that the punitive function of such powers has been underexplored by criminologists, and that the authorization and legitimization of such tactics, routinely defended as a ‘necessary’ crime prevention tool, can be understood as an instantiation of ‘necropolitics’. © The Author(s) 2018.

Author Keywords
Michel Foucault; police and policing; race and class; stop and search; youth

Stauss, R.
Passing as Fashionable, Feminine and Sane: “Therapy of Fashion” and the Normalization of Psychiatric Patients in 1960s US
(2020) Fashion Theory – Journal of Dress Body and Culture, 24 (4), pp. 601-637.

DOI: 10.1080/1362704X.2020.1746515

This article introduces the little-known therapeutic approach of “Therapy of Fashion.” Piloted with a group of female psychiatric patients at Napa State Hospital in California in 1959 and initially carried out as a volunteer project by The Fashion Group of San Francisco, it was practiced in several US-American cities throughout the 1960s. By drawing on a Foucauldian analytical framework, this article analyses how dress and fashion, in the context of “Therapy of Fashion,” were constructed as a normalizing “technology of the self,” as a way of transforming, improving and, effectively, normalizing the bodies and minds of patients. It argues that this therapeutic approach in its official aim of “recreating healthy feminine characteristics” intended to make female patients pass as women, and pass as normative with regards to their gender roles, social behavior and appearance. Moreover, this article maintains that the contemporary relevance of “Therapy of Fashion” lies in the fact that it was developed at a time, at the turn of the 1960s, when in North America and Western Europe both therapy and fashion initially became key coordinates said to define our experience and understanding of ourselves. In its analysis, this article draws on a wide variety of sources: medical journals, local newspapers, contemporary publications about gender and mental hospitals, advertisements for psychotropic drugs and institutional garments, an author interview with one of the participating volunteers, and photographic documentation of different sessions. © 2020, © 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

Author Keywords
fashion; Foucault; normalization; passing; technology of the self; therapy; “Therapy of Fashion”

Lock down and punish
by Blake Smith| Washington Examiner, June 11, 2020

The French philosopher Michel Foucault warned that public health threatens the principles of liberal democracy. Our political system, he argued, depends on us imagining each other as citizens working out collective rules to protect our rights. Our conception of public health, however, results in us thinking of each other as victims and vectors of contagion. Appeals to “science” and “health” suspend our rights and the deliberative reason of the democratic process. But science and health are not neutral, objective categories. They always contain, and usually conceal, projects for reshaping humanity.

Foucault insisted that the totalitarian regimes of the 20th century had used public health concerns as covers to pursue their tyrannical ends. The Nazi regime committed genocide and mass euthanasia in the name of racial hygiene, and the Soviets imprisoned dissenters in psychiatric asylums. Before this year, Foucault’s argument might have appeared hyperbolic. But today, as cities and states debate whether to continue coronavirus lockdowns or declare racism a public health crisis, it should find a hearing.

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Zhang, A.
Chinese Practice of Foucault’s ‘Disciplinary Power’ and its Effects on the Rehabilitation of Female Prisoners in China
(2020) British Journal of Criminology, 60 (3), pp. 662-680.

DOI: 10.1093/bjc/azz068

The prison system of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has been viewed by some scholars as effective in achieving the primary target of Chinese imprisonment: rehabilitation. This article aims to redress this argument. Drawing on interviews undertaken with 30 female parolees/ex-prisoners and 10 prison officers, this article argues that the Jifen Kaohe System in prison, which is strongly imprinted with Foucault’s theory of ‘disciplinary power’, is ineffective and is unable to make accurate judgements on the achievement of prisoners’ rehabilitation at selected women’s prisons. This article suggests that Foucault’s disciplinary power is theoretically problematic in producing a ‘new person’, not the least of its unawareness of contextualized culture, values and situations, and women’s agency in prison. © 2019 The Author(s) 2019.

Author Keywords
Chinese female prisoner; disciplinary power; Jifen Kaohe System; rehabilitation

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