Modern Regime of Power

Dr Philip Holden, University Scholars Programme, National University of Singapore


This is a concept which Chatterjee adopts from Michel Foucault. The notion of what is "modern" is a very complex one about which there is much disagreement, but here Foucault is discussing a way of seeing the world and a series of resultant methods of organizing society which result from the Enlightenment. Reason is paramount, and human beings are encouraged to become "self-governing" individuals under governmentality rather than subjects under sovereignty. A key thrust of Foucault's argument which is very important to Chatterjee is that individuals under modern regimes of power are not necessarily and more "free" than under previous regimes: it is just that power operates in a different way, internally rather than externally.

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Last Modified: 19 April, 2002