Discourse on a subject means that the subject is relevant and modern enough to warrant the concern of the people discussing it. This discourse usually leads to popular opinions and generalizations on the particular subject matter after continued engagement on the subject. Discourse on the subject of sexuality as tackled by Foucault reveals how discourse in the matter of sexuality led to sections of the society gaining power, over the others due to their sexual orientations. Power as understood by Foucault is an ability by a person or a circumstance to influence the decision-making and the actions of an individual. Following these discourses, and their resultant knowledge, power bred from various quarters. People with non-conforming sexual orientations were branded as either sick or mad, in this way the society had managed to gain power over them. Additionally, they felt inadequate within their person due to the knowledge they gained over their sexuality. In this light therefore, knowledge is the information that gives credence to power be it wrong or right information.
Power as an action upon action is represented by the source of the power. Power is derived upon the authority of on an individual or an institution against the other. As such, power is derived from the presence of the conditions to exercise it upon the other party. The situation of being in a position to gain power is different from actually holding that power. A situation yielding power is often the peculiar or the non-conforming part of a person. The action upon the position to acquire power is the real source of power as unexercised or undiscovered authority over a subject is not real power. By the discourse-generated sexuality, the society decided to act on a peculiarity of a section of its own gaining power over them in the process.
Juridical concept of power is power derived from law. Law is set up to govern certain subjects and the custodians of the law impose it upon their subjects. Their subjects in either of two ways select the bearers of juridical political power.
- The custodians elected into office by the ruled in elective processes.
- The ruled are subjected into submission through coercion as in monarchies.
The representation of this power is subject to the idea of the freedom of a sovereign subject on one hand, and the instance of political control on the other. It focuses on the connection between state sovereignty and personal autonomy.
Foucault explains that power as a mode of action upon the actions of the others. In this aspect, power is the action upon the action of others. He goes on to explain that power can only be exercised upon free individuals and between free parties. As Foucault goes on to explain, a person without any freedom under a master, there is no power relationship between the two and that there must be freedom on either side of a power relationship. He ties freedom to power with loss of freedom resulting in the loss of the power relationship. However, Foucault fails to consider power that would be achieved through coercive forms upon a slave for instance, by threatening their safety for instance. Immanence of power is the innate presence of power in a situation. Immanence of power is also regarded as power held by higher beings over humans. The immanence of this power is assumed since the physical presence or even the existence of these beings is not ascertainable. The power held by God for instance over the religious is immanent. The effect of authority over the actions of people by higher beings therefore accords them immanent power over their subjects.
- Social power relations are anchored in a given historical war that politics sanctions and reproduces the results of that war.
- Political struggles are a continuation of the same historic war.
- Basing politics in specific sequences of historical events leads to singular rights rather than universal rights.
Foucault Michel, Graham Burchell, Colin Gordon, and Peter Miller. The Foucault Effect: Studies in Governmentality, with Two Lectures and an Interview by and with Michel Foucault. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991. Print.
Foucault, Michel. "The History of Sexuality" (1990): Print.