Foucault, Consumerism, and Identity

2310 Words10 Pages
Foucault, Consumerism, and Identity

Michel Foucault presents those revolutionary sorts of analyses that are rich not only for their content but for their implications and novel methodological approach. Just beyond the surface of his works lies such philosophical wealth that one can be overwhelmed by considerations of which vein to mine first, and what to make of the elements therefrom extracted. I’ve broken earth in several attractive sites this last week. Some, it seemed, hid their treasures too deep for the scope of this excavation. Some presented me with granite barriers which I do not yet have the tools to penetrate. At other sites, the earth gave way easily and I made great progress, only to be
…show more content…
Since the average person could not take themselves as an object, they had to rely on that Other who does have himself as object (the sovereign) to tell them who they are, and what their relationship is to him, since he is capable of knowing both at once, and thus of comparing. The Classical age saw an increased interest by the ruling classes, and the emerging intellectual class,2[2] in the affairs of the productive classes. The realisation of the significance of microphysical power is parallelled by the establishment of the subject as the final authority on belief (Luther), the foundation of knowledge (Descartes), and the establisher of rights (Locke). These ideas gave power to masses who had hitherto seen themselves as having none (hardly having “seen themselves” at all), and fuelled the Age of Revolutions. The Classical discovery of the individual led, by the Romantic period, to its exaltation. The belief in individual power and rights created a demand not only for access to the privileges previously enjoyed only by the elite (such as say in the direction of society), but also for comparable narrative distinctiveness.

As the romantics idealised the life of peasants, and socialists proclaimed the rights of workers, common folk began to see their images in culture. Individual enshrinement remained the
Get Access