Foucault and the Use of Exposure: Discipline, Ethics, and Self-Writing

Review of Communication 19 (3):225-240 (2019)
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Abstract

This essay develops the concept of exposure as it functions in Michel Foucault's philosophical project. I argue that exposure is a critical component of subject formation in disciplinary society. It also is a concept that can elucidate Foucault's ethics as a form of resistance to power. Discipline forms subjects through processes of exposure that, on the one hand, isolate individual bodies and derive discursive knowledge and norms from them. On the other hand, discipline communicates a variety of techniques and knowledge to physical bodies until those techniques and knowledge are incorporated. Some ethical practices, such as self-writing, mimic disciplinary practices insofar as they derive knowledge from bodily exposure and serve as important tools in embodying new knowledge. However, these ethical practices can be used to counter-disciplinary ends in everyday life.

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