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The idea of structure is implicit in all of Foucault’s work. In writing a history of madness, he wants to penetrate beneath the surface of society to find the cultural, intellectual, and economic structures that dictate how madness is constructed. He is concerned with changing patterns of knowledge, sets of relations, and broad themes. In this account, the actions of individuals are less important; people such as Samuel Tuke and Philippe Pinel represent certain tendencies and a certain discourse about madness. Madness and Civilization is ultimately a book about madness, not individuals. This tendency to consider deep structures instead of individual personalities is extended in Foucault’s later work, where his concept of the discourse is seen to control and define the lives of individuals in subtle and powerful ways.
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