Foucault News

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

Bea Moyes, The Necessity of Disorder in a Soft City: De Certeau vs Foucault, Part 1, The Society Pages, Sociology Lens, (blog), September 7 2014

Part two

Extract

For better or worse, [the city] invites you to remake it, to consolidate it into a shape you can live in.

In his novel Soft City, written in 1974, Jonathan Raban eloquently drew out a vision of London as a fluid city. A city in a continuous process of making and re-making by its inhabitants. A postmodern city whose central locus was not imposed and pre-constructed, as with modernist urban utopias like those of Le Corbusier, but a palimpsest. Malleable and in constant state of construction.

My own research into the fluid fabric of the city has concentrated on the social and cultural shifts in East London when Raban was writing in the 1970s. I am looking, in particular, at the influx of artists whose DIY activities and collectives were instrumental in the transformation of this area of London. Again and again looking at this period I have returned to a central debate between the two French theorists, Michel Foucault and Michel De Certeau, regarding the power relations in the spaces of everyday life. A debate which hinges not only on how we see the city, but how we continue to construct future cities.

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