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The Subject and Power
Why Study Power? The Question of the Subject
The ideas which I would like to discuss here represent neither a theory nor a methodology. I would like to say, first of all, what has been the goal of my work during the last twenty years. It has not been to analyze the phenomena of power, nor to elaborate the foundations of such an analysis. My objective, instead, has been to create a history of the different modes by which, in our culture, human beings are made subjects. My work has dealt with three modes of objectification which transform human beings into subjects. The first is the modes of inquiry which try to give themselves the status of sciences; for example, the objectivizing of the speaking subject in grammaire generale, philology, and linguistics. Or again, in this first mode, the objectivizing of the productive subject, the subject who labors, in the analysis of wealth and of economics. Or, a third example, the objectivizing of the sheer fact of being alive in natural history or biology. In the second part of my work, I have studied the objectivizing of the subject in what I shall call "dividing practices." The subject is either This essay was written by Michel Foucault as an afterword to Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralismand Hermeneuticsby Hubert L. Dreyfus and Paul Rabinow and reprinted by arrangement with the University of Chicago Press. "Why Study Power? The Question of the Subject" was written in English by Foucault; "How Is Power Exercised?" was translated from the French by Leslie Sawyer. Critical Inqury 8 (Summer 1982) , 1982 by The Uni ersity of Chicago. 0093-1896/82/0804-0006$01.00. All rights reserved.
The Subjectand Power
divided inside himself or divided from others. This process objectivizes him. Examples are the mad and the sane, the sick and the healthy, the criminals and the "good boys." Finally, I have sought to study-it is my current work-the way a human being turns himself into a subject. For example, I have chosen the domain of sexuality-how men have learned to recognize themselves as subjects of "sexuality." Thus, it is not power but the subject which is the general theme of my research. It is true that I became quite involved with the question of power. It soon appeared to me that, while the human subject is placed in relations of production and of signification, he is equally placed in power relations which are very complex. Now, it seemed to me that economic history and theory provided a good instrument for relations of production and that linguistics and semiotics offered instruments for studying relations of signification; but for power relations we had no tools of study. We had recourse only to ways of thinking about power based on legal models, that is: What legitimates power? Or, we had recourse to ways of thinking about power based on institutional models, that is: What is the state? It was therefore necessary to expand the dimensions of a definition of power if one wanted to use this definition in studying the objectivizing...