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Michel Foucault - Essay Example

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Title: How has Michel Foucault's work on the history of subjectivity, governmentality and space been highly influential in shaping the geographers' understanding of the relationship between the individual and the modern city / identity i.e. the avant garde/ as in geographical discourses.
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Michel Foucault
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Download file to see previous pages The role of prisons has been highlighted by Foucault as being instrumental in the construction of identity for an individual. Through Foucault's theory of disciplinary power, the identity for normal and abnormal individuals seen in terms of ideal citizen or mad person has been according to him constructed through a broad discursive system of governmentality.
In this analysis we discuss the dimensions and the process of the Panoptic and the implications of social monitoring, define the notions of disciplinary power as in prisons and institutions, link the production of space with surveillance and how spatial limitations of an individual seem to be driven by the concepts of close monitoring and we also provide an analysis of Foucault's perspective on the body/soul and its relations to the modern or contemporary understanding of social regulations. We finally discuss the relationship between conduct and identity through technologies of the self and analyse issues relating the individual to notions of identity and subjectivity. The concepts of governmentality and subjectivity are thus crucial to the understanding of the concept of modernity and the place of a modern man in society.
Foucault gave considerable importance to surveillance that was represented in the space as seen in prisons, mental institutions, hospitals and factories and this is stated in his description of the Panoptic. Foucault was however exclusively interested not in the process of surveillance so much as the social implications and the concept of identity. How the panoptic intentions are diffused in society, how the surveillance redefines individual and mental space in societies are perceived through an understanding of 'technologies of self' and how definitions of self can differ between our perception of selves and others' perceptions of identity and self (Foucault, 1979; Rose 1996).
In every aspect and activity of life we are faced with social situations and spatial regulations and we also have to consider dispositions of people around us as well as our mutual perceptions of self and society. How do we relate to others what are our limitations in interaction how do our sense of identity and that of others relate to social systems and the notion of control Foucault for instance used the example of queuing up for a bus or in a shop which tends to show the limits of space and also at the same time brings out a unique aspect of modernity in which there seem to be restrictions on what we can do and how we can do it (Alford, 2000). Our activities are defined with these spatial and temporal limitations. Thus stepping into a queuing system seems to represent a passive submission of the modern forms of mental and corporal management and our daily life seems to be controlled by moral and social regulations at every step. Public space is thus not a free space but a space controlled by social norms and expectations, regulations and perceptions that are again determined by institutionalised patterns of subjectivity and control (see Fyfe et al, 1996). From a geographer's standpoint, spatiality is central to how the subject can be made or controlled, how incorrect conduct can be distinguished from correct conduct and how the pattern of moral regulation can be shaped around notions of gender, race, age or prejudices and how the meaning, design and use of urban space seems to have been ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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