The History of Sexuality: An Introduction, Volume 1

by: Michel Foucault

Part Five

We might want to question the historical accuracy of Foucault's distinction, however. He is probably right in detecting a shift in emphasis away from negative restrictions during the age of absolutism toward positive regulations during the age of capitalism. However, if we characterize power over life as being an interest in controlling and normalizing the lives of a people, there are certainly ages that have done this more so than our own. The Ancient Greeks, for instance, took citizenship very seriously, and made far less of a distinction between public and private life.