The politics of Michel Foucault

Authored by: Paul Michael Garrett

The Routledge Handbook of Critical Social Work

Print publication date:  January  2019
Online publication date:  January  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138578432
eBook ISBN: 9781351264402
Adobe ISBN:


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Michel Foucault is ‘generally accepted as having been the most influential social theorist of the twentieth century’ (Powell, 2013: 40). Duschinsky and Rocha (2012: 14) claim that no ‘one since Marx has made a more profound change to the way in which we think about society, power and politics than Foucault’. Moreover, his ‘political significance lay in the attention he gave to areas often considered politically as well as socially marginal – madness, imprisonment, the medical clinic, the origins of our ideas of and on sexuality’ (Reader in Elden, 2017: 188). Recourse to Foucault seems de rigueur within the humanities and social sciences and social work is no exception (see, for example, Garrity, 2010; Gilbert and Powell, 2010; Winter and Cree, 2016). In North America, where Foucauldian scholarship is vast, Adrienne S. Chambon and her colleagues produced an influential edited collection arguing that Foucault’s theorisation was of utility for social work at the end of the twentieth-century (Chambon et al., 1999).

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