Michel Foucault: Regimes of Punishment and the Question of Liberty

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‘Sex abuse’ has recently become an object of knowledge of the human sciences and thereby, juridical punishment. While not diminishing the problem of sexual violence, this paper explains the intensification of the sexual abuse discourse as contingent upon an incitement to talk about it in a ‘confessional society’. The paper argues that notions such as ‘normality’, ‘deviance’ and therefore (ab)use, are produced by power and are, consequently, contestable. It examines the ways that under the current punitive disciplinary rationality, there is an imperative of continuous production of knowledge that incites the sex abuse discourse. In a liberal society, failure to determine such knowledge is a threat to liberty and thereby, liberalism itself.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Auckland, New Zealand

Publication date: December 1, 1999

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