Foucault News

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

Marquez, Xavier (2012). “Spaces of Appearance and Spaces of Surveillance”. Polity, 44 (1), p. 6-31.

Hannah Arendt and Michel Foucault developed different but complementary theories about visibility and power In an Arendtian “space of appearance,” the common visibility of actors generates power, which is understood as the potential for collective action. In a Foucauldian “space of surveillance,” visibility facilitates control and normalization. Power generated in spaces of appearance depends on and reproduces horizontal relationships of equality, whereas power in spaces of surveillance depends on and reproduces vertical relationships of inequality The contrast between a space of appearance and a space of surveillance enhances both Arendt’s and Foucault’s critiques of modern society by both clarifying Arendt’s concerns with the rise of the “social” in terms of spaces of surveillance, and enriching Foucault’s notion of “resistance.”

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