Michel Foucault is one of the most important postmodern thinkers. He has contributed a lot to our understanding of power, knowledge, and subjectivity.
Foucault was born in 1926 in Poitiers, France. He was trained as a philosopher, but he later turned to history. Foucault taught at several universities across Europe, including the University of California at Berkeley and the Collège de France in Paris.
His work has been very influential in both history and philosophy departments across the world. His most famous book is Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison (1975), which describes how prisons have changed over time, and how they have become institutions designed primarily to punish prisoners rather than rehabilitate them.
For Foucault, power is everywhere and everyone’s actions are constantly affected by it. Power relations are not just between groups or classes, but also within the individual. This means that people are always in some way complicit with systems of power, even when they are resisting them.
The concept of subjectivity is central to Foucault’s work. He argues that we cannot think of ourselves as autonomous subjects because we are always shaped by social forces which make us who we are. For example, he believes that homosexuality did not exist before the 18th century because there was no discourse surrounding it; it was only named as a category after people started talking about it and therefore created it as a category of experience.
Foucault has had a huge impact on sociology and other disciplines through his concept of discourse analysis: looking at how different groups talk about themselves, others and their relationships with each other.