Power and Biopower in Foucault

Paul Patton

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Michel Foucault is widely credited with having invented new concepts of biopower and biopolitics, despite the fact that they do not play a major role in his work.1 These terms appeared in lectures in 1976 and 1977, and in volume 1 of The History of Sexuality, first published in December 1976.2 Thereafter they were superseded by the concepts associated with his analysis of the different ways in which governmental power has been exercised by modern states. In fact, they are confused and confusing terms that never achieved the status of determinate concepts. After retracing their brief career in Foucault's work, this chapter will identify some of the confusions involved in his use of these terms and suggest that there are good reasons why the concepts of biopower and biopolitics disappeared from his subsequent work.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBiopower
Subtitle of host publicationFoucault and Beyond
EditorsVernon W. Cisney , Nicolae Morar
Place of PublicationChicago
PublisherUniversity of Chicago Press
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9780226226767
ISBN (Print)9780226226620, 9780226226590
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Foucalt
  • biopolitics
  • biopower
  • politics
  • sociology
  • Philosophy


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