Foucault writes in The Introduction to the History of Sexuality (p.69),
“Let us put forward a general working hypothesis. The society that emerged in the nineteenth century—bourgeois, capitalist, or industrial society, call it what you will—did not confront sex with a fundamental refusal of recognition. On the contrary, it put into operation an entire machinery for producing true discourses concerning it. Not only did it speak of sex and compel every one to do so; it also set out to formulate the uniform truth of sex. Thus sex gradually became an object of great suspicion; the general and disquieting meaning that pervades our conduct and our existence, in spite of ourselves; the point of weakness where evil portents reach through to us; the fragment of darkness that we each carry within us: a general signification, a universal secret, an omnipresent cause, a fear that never ends.”
The goal of this essay is to show your understanding of Foucault’s notions of discourses, power and surveillance and the way these have shaped society’s views and experiences of sex.
To achieve this goal, you need to explain the passage above relating it to Foucault’s notions of:
1) Discourse and the exercise of disciplinary power
2) The role that the many discourses concerning sex play in creating a more disciplined population, greater surveillance, and more control.
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