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Following Foucault's conception of subject and power, how do you account For changes in the representations of sexuality in the media?

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Introduction

Alastair Stone 012930 Politics Of Representation Following Foucault's conception of subject and power, how do you account For changes in the representations of sexuality in the media? It is without doubt that the media in our society has an elevated position of power, with moguls such as Rupert Murdoch reputably having control over a distribution of information through processes of media signification. In communication terms these people in the media would be labelled the gatekeepers and their perceived power would rise from their ability to form opinion and withhold or release information. This is a relatively simple concept to come to terms with. However, media representations are formed over time often through myth and a production of truths which operate everywhere in our language. Truth can manifest itself in a number of ways and each society has its own truth regime meaning that the conditions are set for only certain discourses to function on a level of truth. In Foucault's research he looks at power in relation to the subject, and how the human subject is placed in power relations similar to those of production and signification. Representations of sexuality are a particularly interesting site of struggle and it has only been through recent (in particular) ...read more.

Middle

argued that the media are responsible for what is deemed acceptable in the first place, a Marxist idea explored by Theodor Adorno among others), the bars are set at a certain level and until there is a unified resistant force they will remain. Foucault's analysis of power relations takes for a starting point the forms of resistance against different forms of power. He saw using the resistance to bring to light power relations and locate their position in an economy of power relations. The opposition of power of men over women epistemologically can be used to find out some historical evidence for the power men have had over women and how this has changed. The "main objective of these struggles is to attack not so much an institution of power, or group, or elite or class, but rather a technique, a form of power" (Foucault, 1982: 212). This sets his analysis apart from both the traditional Marxist and Hegemonic views of power which work on a basis of patriarchal ideologies and apparatus'. In fact according to Foucault power actually reinforces the idea of individualism and identity in the respect that it imposes truths which must be recognised in order for others to recognise the individual, and attaching the identity. ...read more.

Conclusion

In academic discussion of sex-gender, Foucauldian power certainly seems to have displaced the Lacanian "phallus" as the transcendental signifier. The wider understanding of subject and power offered by Foucault satisfies the vivid explanation given by both Marxists and Feminists. Power, however, tends to recount similar characteristics of those which were attributed to the phallus as origin of all, "immanent in all things, located simultaneously everywhere and nowhere, over determining all articulation and experience and yet in itself inarticulable." (Graham P, 1997). Characteristic of Foucault's work is that truth can often change as a result of the very discourse which it used as a premise, thus making it problematic to offer any solutions. His view of power and the mass media would lead us to believe that resistance is in fact a necessary condition for the outcome of power; however he offers us no revolutionary option. His work gives us insight into the conditions of subject and power struggles through the media and his views act as an important theoretical barrier to any belief that the Mass Media present us with a picture of our own reality. Domination by traditional axioms of sexuality is still at large, yet Foucault encourages us to look deeper and question the changes in representation that have moulded our society and defined our history. ...read more.

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