14. Power, Resistance, and Freedom

  1. Christopher Falzon2,
  2. Timothy O'Leary3 and
  3. Jana Sawicki4
  1. Jon Simons

Published Online: 5 FEB 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781118324905.ch14

A Companion to Foucault

A Companion to Foucault

How to Cite

Simons, J. (2013) Power, Resistance, and Freedom, in A Companion to Foucault (eds C. Falzon, T. O'Leary and J. Sawicki), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781118324905.ch14

Editor Information

  1. 2

    University of Newcastle, Australia

  2. 3

    University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

  3. 4

    Williams College, USA

Author Information

  1. Indiana University, Bloomington, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 5 FEB 2013
  2. Published Print: 12 MAR 2013

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781444334067

Online ISBN: 9781118324905



  • discipline;
  • domination;
  • ethics;
  • Foucault;
  • freedom;
  • governmentality;
  • knowledge;
  • liberty;
  • power;
  • resistance


This chapter first outlines some of Foucault' s conceptualizations of forms of power, focusing on discipline and biopower. The first section explores the extent to which Foucault understood modern power relations to be constraining limits, inhospitable to freedom. The second section focuses on some of Foucault's general conceptualizations rather than specific historical analyses of power and resistance. The third section follows Foucault's conceptualization of power relations as more expansive and complex than domination. In the final section Foucault's affirmative conceptualization of power relations in the forms of liberty and freedom, not only resistance, comes to light. The section argues that Foucault's theorization and practice of resistance and liberty illustrate that, under contemporary conditions, resistance is the most viable way to practice freedom. Most of Foucault's work on ethical concern for the self focuses on the Classical Greek and Hellenistic eras, as Greek ethics turns power relations on the self.