Foucault and ‘the Right to Life’: from Technologies of Normalization to Societies of Control”

Abram Anders


From the perspective of Michel Foucault’s conceptualizations of biopower and technologies of normalization, disability activism emerges as a collective protest against the form of power/knowledge that produces disability as an abject identity. Yet, disability activists also claim a “right to life” that biopower would seem to both promise and withhold—the production of new capacities for health. Disabled people are necessarily oriented to seek relief from the indignities of social disenfranchisement and paternalist interventions, while simultaneously relying on the institutional mechanisms through which these effects are produced as the means of seeking new norms for living. As reform efforts increasingly focus on quality of life and seek to empower “consumers” of health services, we are inexorably moving beyond the political costs and historical limits of rights discourse: we now grapple with problems unique to societies of control. 


Keywords:  biopower, Michel Foucault, health, normalization, power, rights, societies of control


biopower; Michel Foucault; health; normalization; power; rights; societies of control

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Copyright (c) 2013 Abram Anders

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