Aug 4, 2009



About the book:

This book is intended as a set of essays examining the value of the recent works of Michel Foucault for social theory and social history. Foucault's works written since 1968 (Discipline and Punish, The History of Sexuality and numerous shorter pieces) contain some important advances in social theory and in the writing of social history. My purpose is to separate out those advances from other features of Foucault's thought which I find less beneficial. I am not attempting to give an assessment of Foucault's work as a whole but to focus on and analyze certain features of it.

To that end I situate Foucault's work in a double problematic: those of critical social theory and a new social formation that I call the mode of information. Although Foucault's politics may be ambiguous, his works are profitably situated in relation to critical theory. He provides, I will argue, models of analysis that contain theoretical elements which, properly interpreted, open up new directions for critical theory, directions that can lead it out of its current impasses. But these new directions only become apparent when certain important changes in the social formation of advanced trial society are recognized. To that end I have coined the somewhat infelicitous phrase 'mode of information' to represent these changes and to contrast the current situation to Marx's concept of the mode of production.

Free and public edition
, here

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