Michel Foucault Structuration and Post-Modernism: Introduction, Contribution, Knowledge, Discipline

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Michel Foucault: Structuration and Post-Modernism (Sociology)


  • Michel Foucault was a French philosopher and social theorist who were born in France. He earned his degrees in Philosophy and Psychology at the University of Paris. His first major work was “The History of Madness” published in the year 1961.
  • He is a post-modern thinker. His theories deal with power and knowledge and the use of institutions to maintain social control.

Other Important Works:

  • The Birth of the Clinic published in 1963
  • Discipline and Punish published in 1975
  • A trilogy- “The History of Sexuality” 1976
  • The care of the self, 1984
  • The use of pleasure, 1984


  • To understand how society was changing with modern times
  • How ideas were framed in modern times
  • Analysing changes from one epoch to another
  • Modern times needed new ways of thinking, speaking, etc.
  • What is an epoch?
    • A long or distinct historical period with some significance due to an event or characteristic.

Knowledge and Power

  • ″ Power is based on knowledge and makes use of knowledge; on the other hand, power reproduces knowledge by shaping it in accordance with its anonymous intentions. Power (re-) creates its own fields of exercise through knowledge. Power is everywhere/pervasive and makes us what we are. ″
  • Power is not concentrated in the hands of few
  • Power is dispersed and pervasive not coerced
  • He challenged that ‘power is wielded by episodic acts’
  • It is a meta-power or ‘regime of truth’ (what is believed to be true)
  • It is decided by people in power
  • Power is gained through knowledge, truth and understanding
  • Every society has a regime of truth which helps tell right and wrong
  • It is the result of scientific discourses
  • Saw power as a positive, necessary and important force in society
  • What is a discourse?

Written Rules according to which right and wrong can be separated

Knowledge and Power


  • Society is under constant observation or surveillance
  • There is structure of discipline
  • Even when we do not know, we are being controlled and monitored
  • To regulate social control
  • In modern times, harsh punishments and tortures are substituted with surveillance and rehabilitation.

Discipline and Punish

  • We are being disciplined constantly by society
  • In the form of socialization or controlling techniques
  • ‘making of the self’
  • Being told how to dress, how to talk
  • Trained subconsciously
  • Called as micro-power
  • Therefore, power constructs us


Q. 1. Foucault does not subscribe to which one of the following statements?

1. Power is purely coercive.

2. Power is diffused.

3. Power is embodied in regimes.

4. Power is pervasive.

Answer: 1

Q. 2. Which is the correct sequence of the following publications of Foucault?

The Birth of the Clinic

The Care of the Self

The Use of Pleasure

Discipline and Punish

Choose the correct answer from the code given below:

1. (i) , (ii) , (iv) , (iii)

2. (iv) , (i) , (ii) , (iii)

3. (ii) , (i) , (iii) , (iv)

4. (i) , (iv) , (ii) , (iii)

Answer: 4


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