Foucault News

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

Engels, K.S.
Biopower, Normalization, and HPV: A Foucauldian Analysis of the HPV Vaccine Controversy
(2015) Journal of Medical Humanities, 14 p. Article in Press.

DOI: 10.1007/s10912-015-9361-5

This article utilizes the Foucauldian concepts of biopower and normalization to give an analysis of the debate surrounding the controversial administration of the HPV vaccine to adolescents. My intention is not to solve the problem, rather to utilize a Foucauldian framework to bring various facets of the issue to light, specifically the way the vaccine contributes to strategies of power in reference to how young adults develop within relationships of power. To begin, the article provides an overview of the Foucauldian concepts of biopower and normalization, including how these two strategies of power were present in the administration of the smallpox vaccine in the 19th century. Next, information about HPV and the history of the current controversy in the United States is presented. Lastly, the article presents an analysis of the strategies of biopower and normalization present in the debate on HPV, including an emphasis on how the vaccination is similar to, and different from, 19th century smallpox vaccination. It also explores the way that mechanisms of disease control affect and are affected by individual subjects, in this case, adolescents. © 2015 Springer Science+Business Media New York

Author Keywords
Biopower; Foucault; Human papillomavirus; Normalization

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