The Third Modulation: Foucault, Security and Population
AbstractEvolving as Foucault’s third modulation of power, security power marks a radical departure from previous eras of sovereign and disciplinary power. Dramatically decentering the individual, altering the means by which government acts and shifting from a static to a dynamic conception of temporal activity, an understanding of Foucauldian security power provides a number of critical insights into modern governance. This paper seeks to explain and analyze Foucault’s conceptualization of security power as the new language of governance and apply it in relation to the pervasive phenomena of government attempts to control fertility. Using the cases of inter-war France and post-colonial India, the theorization of security power will be grounded in the realities of natalist policy demonstrating the universality of the exercise of security power and its applicability to numerous contexts and settings. The concretization of theory in case study not only illuminates the workings of a new model of power but highlights the difficulty of resisting this novel type of government control. Understanding power to understand modes of resistance is central to the Foucauldian method, and drawing from Foucault’s newly translated lectures, this paper will bring to light a fascinating mode of analysis which helps illuminate the evolving nature of power and control in the modern era.
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