For Foucault’s piece, Foucault searches Power from a social relationship rather than from a structure. Foucault highlights that it is crucial to study the forms of resistance to Power to understand power relations. Foucault writes, “in order to understand what power relations are about perhaps we should investigate the forms of resistance and attempts made to dissociate these relations (p.780).” Foucault defines a power relationship as “not simply a relationship between partners” but “a way in which certain actions modify others.” Moreover, he further delineates that a relationship of Power is a way of acting on others that does not necessarily affect them physically, directly, or immediately. So the Power here can be differentiated from violence and threat.
When the point is reached, and the power relationship breaks between the two parts, how can that relationship be rebuilt? For example, when the factory labor union goes on a strike against the factory managers, how these managers try to maintain their Power, and how these laborers try to adjust the balance of power relationship?
Foucault’s piece reminds me of Oscar Lewis’ Culture of Poverty theory. Even though this theory has been controversial, I thought it could be good counter-evidence or supporting evidence for Foucault’s piece. Some economically poor people, such as the slum dwellers of Mexico City, sustain their impoverished condition across generations. Can we say these people are victims of significantly imbalanced power relations or subjects accustomed to feeling inferiority and powerlessness?
Even though Foucault thinks “history” plays a significant role in shaping Power, Foucault does not engage in historical analysis deeply in this piece. Different forms of power relationships have existed until now. If Power exists in the social relationship, why history is so important? What is the role of history?
For Lester’s piece, it is interesting to read about the power relationship between insurance companies and people with psychiatric disorders such as anorexia. And how selves are formed and experienced at the local level. As Foucault mentions that the study of institutions is an effective way of studying power; in this piece, I thought of insurance companies as another form of institution for researching power. According to the article, with the way insurance companies manage the patients, patients with psychiatric problems are perceived as abnormal beings. In this circumstance, the patients have to practice self-making and need to prove that they are recovering from their disorders to the insurance companies by all means. Lester focuses on the process and relationship within local understandings of selfhood regardless of the contextual structure.
I think a simple mechanism of governing something is designating or directing the individuals or groups to go, behave, and think in a certain way by using power. When individuals are governing themselves, where does power situate?