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Lecture

Arendt and Foucault - March 13th, 2014

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Department
Political Science
Course Code
Political Science 2237E
Professor
Mike Laurence

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Arendt and Foucault Traditional Theories of Power o Looking at critiquing traditional forms of power (e.g. Hobbes, Marx, medieval  theories of power, etc.). o Most traditional theories function like triangles.  The top sees the  King/Ruler/Sovereign/Ruling class, the middle is ministers or politicians, and the  bottom is the subjects/people/proletariat/masses.  The flow of power is very  simple.  Arguably the operating system of power that can be drawn from any  conflict is very simple – applying the triangle to a conflict. o The bottom dwellers have the top’s rules imposed on them by the middle  members. o Makes 3 key assumptions: • Power is held and dispersed by a central figure. • Power is comes from something beyond us.  It either restricts or requires  us (more often than not restricts). • To study power we need to look no farther than forms of governance – we  only need to look at the top and trace it down. o Looking at historical instances of power (E.g. tax collectors), that was usually a  good thing.   o This theory of power is called The Sovereign Model of Power.  This theory is  based on the law and state institutions, officials, and government.  Power is  present in a superior source, and its agents are visible.  This theory claims that we  always know when power is being applied to us.   o New forms of society developed with industrialization, urbanization, and  population growth.  A new power type emerges. o Foucault claims that we still haven’t dispensed with this traditional idea of power  – AND WE NEED TO! o Thus, we look to Arendt and Foucault to understand new conceptions of power. • These two argue that power is not just about governments and states. • Power is not just restrictive, but also as producing or creating something. Both apply this, but in different ways. Arendt’s Understanding of Power o Power only exists in a group, because through speaking and acting it can
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