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Biopower and Biopolitics

  • By: J. Blake Scott
  • In: Encyclopedia of Health Communication
  • Edited by: Teresa L. Thompson
  • Subject:Public Health Education & Health Promotion, Health Psychology, Health Communication

Biopower is a concept originated by French philosopher Michel Foucault and adapted by scholars in health communication and the rhetoric of health (among others) to analyze and critique the power relations involved in health-related discourses and practices. The relational nature of biopower—that it comes out of and works through sociocultural, political, economic, interpersonal, and other relationships—is especially important. Foucault developed the concept from studying how new forms of knowledge, institutions, and techniques, including those involved in clinical medicine and public health, emerged in the 18th century to regulate people's health and lives.

Like the studies from which it was derived, biopower is always historically specific; as health care systems, institutions, and practices change, so do the ways they operate and function to shape people, their actions, ...

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