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Interrelation Between Foucauldian Concepts of Sexuality and Confession - Essay Example

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Whereas ‘Confession’ is a key to understanding Foucault’s “social disciplinary theory of power and body politics”, sexuality is central to confession because of its relation with the science of body…
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Interrelation Between Foucauldian Concepts of Sexuality and Confession
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Download file to see previous pages Therefore, at the subconscious level of mind, the person learns through confession to acknowledge the social institutions (that boost up one another and that are interrelated with each other), in other words, the society as the power over his or her life, while learning to view body as an object that needs to be reigned carefully and to remain in continual vigilance. (Reich, 1966: 35-37) According to Foucault, how confession is related to sexuality essentially involves learning about the truth of human body or what Foucault calls the science of sexuality (‘scientia sexualis’). Indeed Foucault’s concepts of ‘confession and sexuality’ are indispensably interwoven with his “theory of social discipline” in the sense that his theory considers the physicality or the organic existence of body –a seat of needs and appetite- as a subject of politics and power. Foucault assumes that confession comprises “all those procedures by which the subject is incited to produce a discourse of truth about his sexuality which is capable of having effects on the subject himself” (Foucault, 1980: 110). Confession produces subjectivity through the authority of speech about sex. Indeed confession and sexuality are related with each other through a power-subject relationship. (Tambling, 1990: 49) When sexuality represents body as a subject to power, confession plays a dual role in power mechanism. Not only has it provided power with the scope to exercise control over the body by informing power of the self-willed, honest and spontaneous truth about human body, but also it assists the confessor over the subject of confession, sex, by distancing it as an object to be discussed. Foucault believes that confession plays “a central role in the order of civil and religious powers…The truthful confession was inscribed at the heart of the procedures of individualization by power [and has become] one of the West’s most highly valued techniques for producing truth” (Foucault, 1990: 58). In the very first place, the obligation to confess itself is the sign of power’s influence on the individual, as Foucault writes about it: “the obligation to confess…is so deeply ingrained in us, that we no longer perceive it as the effect of a power that constrains us; on the contrary, it seems to use that truth, lodged in our most secret nature, ‘demands’ only to surface” (Foucault, 1990: 60). This urge of an individual to confess evolves his or her discomfort under the panoptic gaze of power. Smart (1995: 88) explains Foucault’s concept of panoptic as following: The Panopticon was to function as an apparatus of power by virtue of the field of visibility in which individuals were to be located, each in their respective places ... for a centralized and unseen observer. In this schema subjects were to be individualized in their own space, to be visible, and to be conscious of their potentiality constant and continuous visibility. (Foucault, 1975: 88) By confessing the confessor becomes affected in two ways: first, he or she becomes a part of power’s panoptic gaze, which imposes constant surveillance on sex, by internalizing it more; second, the confessor reaffirms his or her identity in term of power relations, since sex holds the truth of ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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