Michel Foucault

French philosopher Michel Foucault (1926-1984) wrote extensively on the relationship between knowledge and power and how they are used through social institutions to control how people think and behave—for example, how surveillance replaces the threat of corporal punishment as a mechanism of social control.

Foucault maintained that in society, power and knowledge were closely associated, where having and sharing knowledge was the productive mechanism of power—the foundation of social influence and, by extension, power: “We are subjected to the production of truth through power and we cannot exercise power except through the production of truth” (Foucault, 2003).

Foucault saw individuals as the purveyors of power, and not just objects experiencing it. The term, Power/knowledge, which he used to explain his idea, is reminiscent of “knowledge is power,” first published by Sir Francis Bacon in his 1597 work, Meditationes Sacrae.

Michel Foucault article