Michel Foucault

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MICHEL FOUCAULT
Foucault’s major work analyses the emergence of modern institutions (asylums, hospitals, prisons) and the forms of governance associated with them. However, instead of stories of continuity, he focuses on discontinuities – for instance, the move from violent torture and execution to imprisonment as a form of punishment. According to Foucault this is not a question of new discovered humanity since power is still present in changing forms. Humanism does not remove power but reinscribes it. Since education developed alongside democratic institutions, modern forms of governance and social discipline are secured through education; in an important sense, they work through educating. Liberal humanism accustom us to see knowledge and power as distinct from each other. Power is associated with repression, distorted knowledge and falsehood, while knowledge is seen as faithful and gives a truthful view of the ‘real’ world. Knowledge is a means of liberating oneself and others from power. However, for Foucault, power and knowledge are inseparable, they are found together in ‘regimes of truth’ (knowledge practices through which power is exercised). Democratic freedom is closely related to procedures of control and constraints, and schools and teachers are responsible for embedding these procedures into children. Education is not simply that which goes on in school but is an essential part of governmentality. Power does not operate through repression but through ‘knowledgeable’ practices, which measure, categorise and regulate. To this regard school organise learning spaces to establish these norms and procedures so that divergences can be observed and recorded. Foucault’s analysis is highly suggestive as to the ways power can be said to operate at the heart of human subject and subjectivity. Power-knowledge formations produce subjects who are subject to regulation. Foucault associates this to the notion of ‘discipline’. Teachers are both agents...
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