Power, Freedom, Ideology and Explanation: A Marxian View

Dissertation, University of Toronto (Canada) (2000)

Chandra Kumar
York University
The purpose of this dissertation is to show that Marxian theory is an essential part of a critical understanding of modern society. There are many strands in our intellectual life that have contributed to a devaluation of Marxian analysis in recent times. One of the recent intellectual trends that has done so is 'postmodernism'. Though postmodernists tend not to reject the very idea of critically reflecting on modern norms, practices, and institutions, typically they reject the idea that Marxian theory, or any theory, provides a privileged perspective from which to criticize or understand society. They typically favour a 'decentred' understanding of political life over a systemic analysis that focuses on class structure, the economic system, and the state. While I discuss postmodern conceptions of politics only in chapter 4, section 1, in all the chapters, I examine the views on politics and power of Michel Foucault. Many of the various strands of postmodernism have a basis in his work. His work is richly suggestive, however, lending itself to various uses. In this dissertation I offer a particular Marxian reading of Foucault. I try to show that Foucault's views on power, social theory, and ideology, can and should be seen as being supportive of, and complementary to, Marxian theory. This runs contrary to the usual interpretations of Foucault, including, perhaps, his self-interpretations. Nevertheless, I believe my reading of Foucault does two things: it renders Foucault's critique of modern social life more coherent and forceful than it would otherwise be, and it renders Marxian theory more compelling than it would otherwise be. And through this discussion of Focaultian and Marxian social analysis, I hope I can show, indirectly. something about what is worth preserving and discarding in postmodernism. ;The dissertation, as a whole, tries to show that Foucault and Marxism are compatible in a number of ways---on issues relating to power, freedom, ideology, methodological individualism, and functional explanation. In trying to combine two perspectives on social life that are often treated as if they were close to being irreconcilable, I wish to suggest that with Foucault and Marx in combination we will have a broader, more critical understanding of the social world than if we just stick with one of them or if we did not use either. That is the point of combining them
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 47,122
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Revising Foucault: The History and Critique of Modernity.Colin Koopman - 2010 - Philosophy and Social Criticism 36 (5):545-565.
Methodological Individualism and Marxism.Julius Sensat - 1988 - Economics and Philosophy 4 (2):189.
Marx, Lenin and the Problem of Revolution.Vijayalakshmi Rajiva - 1987 - Dissertation, Concordia University (Canada)
Understanding Foucault.Geoff Danaher - 2000 - Sage Publications.
Foucault and Power Revisited.Nathan Widder - 2004 - European Journal of Political Theory 3 (4):411-432.
Who Are We?: Modern Identities Between Taylor and Foucault.Allison Weir - 2009 - Philosophy and Social Criticism 35 (5):533-553.
Foucault's Politics.John Swift Ransom - 1992 - Dissertation, Columbia University
Practicing Politics with Foucault and Kant: Toward a Critical Life.Dianna Taylor - 2003 - Philosophy and Social Criticism 29 (3):259-280.
Michel Foucault and the Politics of Freedom.Thomas L. Dumm - 2002 - Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
The Problem Productivity Of Work In The Light Of Marxian Theory Of Value.Marek Łagosz - 2010 - Studia Philosophica Wratislaviensia 5 (4):97-113.


Added to PP index

Total views

Recent downloads (6 months)

How can I increase my downloads?


Sorry, there are not enough data points to plot this chart.

My notes

Sign in to use this feature