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date: 21 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The chapter discusses Foucault’s account of power and introduces some of its most influential feminist appropriations. It explicates the key aspects of Foucault’s conception of productive power—disciplinary power, biopower, governmentality, and resistance—and examines the ways they have been taken up and disputed by feminist scholars. Although Foucault had little interest in the feminist politics of his time, his theorization of the various rationalities and technologies of power has both opened up new resources for feminist critique and been controversial among feminists. It has deepened our theoretical understanding of the constitution of gendered subjectivity and provided stimulus for political critiques of gender normalization, biopolitics, and neoliberalism. It has also challenged some of the most basic assumptions of feminist theory, however, such as the idea of woman as an emancipatory political identity, and the belief that women would have privileged critical insight into patriarchal societies.

Keywords: Foucault, microphysics of power, productive power, disciplinary power, biopower, governmentality, resistance, practices of the self

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