Abstract and keywords

Ritið 3/13 - 2013

Nanna Hlín Halldórsdóttir: Can the Game be Evenly Played? On Equality on the Basis of Foucault’s Analysis of Power

In this paper, Michel Foucault’s analysis of power, especially his emphasis on power as relations, will be the basis of an analysis of the concept of equality. By looking at the history of ideas of feminist theory, equality is often contrasted with the concept of difference, but the concept of equality gains its importance as one of the main concepts of political liberal theory where it is tightly articulated with the system of laws. According to Foucault, subjects misrecognize power as putting limits on their life while power is the very element that produces them as subjects and constructs their lives. The dominant form of power in western societies is bio-power. This subject-formation produces multiple forms of inequalities, which it subsequently hides. In the spirit of Foucault, I suggest new forms of subjectivity, taking resistance as a starting point and seeing equality as an inherent element of all kinds of power relations. This is actually impossible as, according to Foucault, the outcome of a particular power relation can never be equal. Rather than dismissing equality on that basis, I think there can be a use for the utopian element of equality as it makes one aware of the possibility of the new – whether it will be new forms of power relations, equality or discrimination.

Keywords: Equality, power, subject, Foucault, feminism

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