Beyond power: unbridging Foucault and Weber

Juan Jimenez-Anca

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Today, very few would doubt that there are plenty of reasons to liken Weber’s and Foucault’s theories of power. Nevertheless, their respective works have divergent ethical and ontological preoccupations which should be reconsidered. This paper explores Foucault’s account of a historical episode in Discipline and Punish and Weber’s theory of life spheres, uncovering evidence that there is a need to reassess the conceptual bridges which have been built so far. The exploration reveals a radical difference between a monological theory of power (Foucault) and a multidimensional approach to power (Weber). Yet by unbridging the two thinkers and focusing on other aspects of their theories along with their ideas about power, we also find that alternative links between the two frameworks may offer a more promising critical theory.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)36-50
Number of pages15
JournalEuropean Journal of Social Theory
Issue number1
Early online date6 Jun 2012
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2013


  • Michel Foucault
  • Max Weber
  • power relations
  • theories of power
  • ethics and religion


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