For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

The history of sexuality: An introduction, volume I

by Foucault, Michel (1978)

Key Passage

Hence the domain we must analyze in the different studies that will follow the present volume is that deployment of sexuality: its formation on the basis of the Christian notion of the flesh, and its development through the four great strategies that were deployed in the nineteenth century: the sexualization of children, the hysterization of women, the specification of the perverted, and the regulation of populations- all strategies that went by way of a family which must be viewed, not as a powerful agency of prohibition, but as amajor factor of sexualization. The first phase corresponded to the need to form a "labor force" (hence to avoid any useless "expenditure," any wasted energy, so that all forces were reduced to labor capacity alone) and to ensure its reproduction (conjugality, the regulated fabrication of children). The second phase correspondedto that epoch of Spatkapitalismus in which the exploitation of wage labor does not demand the same violentand physical constraints as in the nineteenth century, and where the politics of the body does not require the elision of sex or its restriction solely to the reproductive function; it relies instead on a multiple channeling into the controlled circuits of the economy-on what has been called a hyperrepressive desublimation.If the politics of sex makes little use of the law of the taboo but brings into play an entire technical machinery, if what is involved is the production of sexuality rather than the repression of sex, then our emphasis has to be placed elsewhere; we must shift our analysis away from the problem of "labor capacity" and doubtless abandon the diffuse energetics that underlies the theme of a sexuality repressed for economicreasons.  (p.113)


Foucault, Sexuality, Repression, Power, Resistance, Postmodernism, Poststructuralism


History of Sexuality, Foucault Citations

Links to Reference



How to contribute.