Foucault and Giddens? thoughts on modernity

Posted by Melda Research on March 21st, 2019


            Modernity, as used in social sciences, refers to both the historical period and the collection of certain socio-cultural norms, attitudes, and practices that arose in the post middle ages and still continues to develop. They develop in diverse ways and at different times around the globe. Modernity covers the issues of social, scientific, technological advancements, and industrialization among others. Foucault and Giddens have varying views about modernity as described in the essay. Foucault focuses much on power and knowledge using the concept of discipline. In addition, he discusses the unique power of modernity in his arguments. Power is linked to change in government, medicine, and the institution of human sciences, Western view of sexuality, and the panel system. Giddens, on theotherhand, focuses on theinfluence of living in modernity to other people's experiences. Another issue discussed is the dynamic quality of modernity as well as globalization.

            Foucault argues that modernity is an attitude that questions and transfigures the present for the purposes of philosophical interrogation. The basis for modernity according to Foucault is the conception of the modern state and power as being totalizing and individualizing. At present, the modern state cares for the community and also the individual by operating at all levels and preserving the individual and their productive capabilities. The modernity identified by Foucault is centered on the establishment of a new power and knowledge regime that has a man as the object and also the subject. Discipline supports a certain economy of power and purpose which is a period having a huge increase in the productivity of power and the channels of operation. Foucault thoughts on modernity use the concepts of power, discipline, and bio-power to influence growth (Foucault, 1997). His view of modernity is negative but focuses on constructive potential by creating new social forms.

            Michael Foucault has influenced our understanding of modernity in various ways. First is the approach to power that has been very influential in the modern history. Power is not something that the individual holds, but it is everywhere. It is the common trend in the present world such that no single person can hold on to power forever. His work also has influenced the study of politics. The analytical tools used are ‘governmentality’ and bio-power in assessing politics (Lemke, 2007). People have a new understanding of social power rather than focusing on individual intentions as a result of Foucault’s thoughts about modernity. The issue of discipline is practical in the institutions like schools, hospitals, and factories that use a similar method to that of prison in arranging bodies in space. According to Foucault, the issue of sexuality should be discussed openly in the modern era. It has greatly influenced the way people view sexuality at present since it is no longer an issue as the earlier days.

            Anthony Giddens focuses much on the consequences of modernity. He offers a different interpretation of institutional changes associated with modernity. The definition given for modernity is the reference to the modes of social life that emerged in the seventeenth century progressively and which have a lot of influence in the world. He views modernity as a double-edged phenomenon. Giddens views modernity as the industrialized world (Giddens, 1990). Modernity has developed as a result of the relationships of the institutional dimensions of capitalism, industrialism, information control, and development of the military power. The modern society is much more dynamic than the pre-modern society. The speed, intensity, and scope of change are higher than in the pre-modern society. The modern social institutions have created great opportunities for humans to enjoy an improved life. The entire analysis of modernity according to Giddens comprises of time-space separation, the reflexive character of modernity, and the dis-embedding mechanisms. Modernity has resulted in thedegradingnature of theindustrialwork, emergency, andthriving on totalitarianism. Others include; environmental degradation, and the high rate of military power and weapons development (Mondal, 2015).

            Giddens thoughts on modernity have significant influences on the understanding of modernity. The issues of capitalism and industrialism are evident in the present world. Capitalism is the system that allows competitive production is thereby enabling markets to operate on a global scale. Many countries are moving towards accessing the global markets for them to reap much from the sale of their products. There is also widespread use of machines technology in the control and transformation of nature. The views of Giddens about modernity have led to the emergence of urbanization, slums and infiltration of the markets due to industrialization. Another issue is the coordinated administrative power due to the control of information by the state.

            Giddens and Foucault have varying views about modernity, but each raises issues of concern that have influenced the understanding of modernity. Foucault dwells much on criticism of modernity whereas Giddens describes the consequences of modernity. Foucault concentrates much on power and knowledge using the concept of discipline. He also has a concern for the social, scientific, technological advancements, and industrialization issues. Giddens has a concern for both the benefits and shortcomings of modernity. Foucault has influenced the way people view power and Giddens has influenced the understanding of capitalism and industrialism.

Anthony Giddens (1990) The consequences of modernity; pp. 1-188, ISBN 9780804718912

Foucault, M. (1997) ‘The Birth of Biopolitics’, in The Essential Works of Michel Foucault 1954-  1984 Ed. Rabinow, P., & Faubion, J. D. pp.73-80, New York, New Press

Keith Tribe (2009): The political economy of modernity: Foucault’s College de France lectures     of 1978 and 1979, Economy and Society, 38:4, 679-698

Koopman, C. (2010). Revising Foucault: The historyandcritique of modernity: Philosophy &      Social Criticism; 36, 545-565.

Lemke, T. (2007) An indigestiblemeal? Foucault, governmentality andstatetheory, Distinction: Scandinavian Journal of Social Theory. 8, 43-64.

Mondal P. (2015) Giddens views on modernization: Meaning and characterization of modernity; 

Sherry Roberts is the author of this paper. A senior editor at MeldaResearch.Com in nursing writing services. If you need a similar paper you can place your order from best custom term papers.

Like it? Share it!

Melda Research

About the Author

Melda Research
Joined: January 25th, 2019
Articles Posted: 80

More by this author