What is power? And if “Knowledge is power”, how do people use this power over societies and have authority at the same time? We often heard the term knowledge is power from Foucault, and we will discuss how, like this, power and winning authorities use knowledge as a power against other opposing parties, other societies, and countries. According to Michel Foucault, Frantz Fanon and Edward Said, what does it mean that knowledge is power? Sociology and sociological perspective can shed light on this question.  Relationship Between Knowledge and Power examined by different sociological perspective.

Relationship Between Knowledge and Power for Fathers of Sociology


Foucault, Fanon and Edward Said approach similar use of knowledge as power, but while the difference between Foucault’s approach is he explains it more descriptively. Fanon and Said explain it through Western Societies and White men, namely racism and discrimination. A power arises from the relationships between individuals and is shaped according to it, Foucault says that we need to focus on how power is created to understand this. And Said says that this created power is thanks to knowledge actually used by the ruling classes and countries to establish superiority over eastern societies. And here we need to define abnormal and powerless to define normal and advanced, as Foucault said, to describe these authorities as strong. All of them looked relationship between knowledge and power in different but similar ways.


In Said, Western societies first showed the eastern societies as barbarian, undeveloped, wild, and then the western societies said: Look, you are back, ignorant, saying that we are advanced, he says he has taken over the authority. Thus, due to this knowledge created after a while, they began to take care of the west in oriental societies. In other words, this acceptance and knowledge was not something that was provided by their own selves, but on the contrary, they were forcibly accepted.

But they didn’t even realize it, and that was the scariest. Fanon has a similar opinion. He argues that the knowledge of black people, you are not developed and that you have been created for slavery, has been accepted by white people for their own interests and black people have been deceived. And he talks about white people exploiting blacks for centuries, using the power of knowledge in this way.


Michel Foucault Power Definition

According to Foucault, if the knowledge is power, it was created by the authorities, and society was brought to such a degree that people accepted this knowledge and did not object because they came to such psychology that they thought that this knowledge was correct and that they should believe it. it means our own self and free will, but in doing so we don’t do it ourselves and we don’t even realize it. So, we didn’t decide with our own will.


We can say that the people who want the knowledge to be applied by the people who created the knowledge in his thought must be manipulated in away. Take, for example, media organs, what do we do if 50 channels share the same news and knowledge? We believe it immediately. And our truth is in our truth.


In Foucault, we can say that in fact, people transform and accept the knowledge that is in the interest of the authority over time and Said considered similarly that knowledge was used as power in this respect. But it is important to underline that the reality of this knowledge is entirely in the interests of the authority, that is, we accept it with our own will, but our own will is the will created by the authority in us, and this is something terrible. We can say that people are robotic and puppet zed.

Unlike Foucault and Said, Fanon thinks that this is practiced by race, but basically, in our three theorists says; the power of this knowledge is created for the interests of the authority. In short, all three talks about the same thing, but the goals that power focuses on are changing. And, as Foucault said, to identify the Top it is first necessary to identify the backward and the barbarian. After that, society and people who are believed to be left behind and become barbarians want to look like a superior society and believe what they say.

Knowledge is Power but to Edward Said?

 Said links with the use of the power of knowledge applied by westerners because the eastern societies see themselves as wrong, barbaric, perverted, undeveloped because westerners tell them in their books, in their scientific reports in their research. And people in the land occupied during the colonial period did not know. What was taught to them was that they fell behind and were wrong. Thus, they were admired to look at the western civilizations and provided a power authority over them. Relationship between knowledge and power is something different according to him. More complicated one.

See also  How to Open Outlook Account? [Easiest Ways]


Because they considered themselves ignorant and barbaric, they fulfilled the wishes of the civilizations that occupied them and accepted what they said as true and logical. Thus, it was much easier for them to rule over them because there was no need for war, the society before them immediately handed over to their authority. As Foucault said, we must first define abnormally to define normal and define normal through it. This perception study is done by western states on eastern societies and states according to Edward W. Said.

Here, the knowledge and facts that are put into people’s heads by using the power of knowledge shape people and bring them to the desired consistency. Fanon, who is different from Said, thinks that this aphorism is mostly applied among races and that Black and White’s separation has been used for years when whites see black as slaves and low levels As Said, Westerners sent scientists to the east and wrote scientific research, news articles so that the eastern believed that everyone and themselves were an undeveloped, barbarian, perverted and non-civilized society.


What is Power according to Frantz Fanon?


Fanon also believes that the power of this knowledge is used to manage and fool them above people and societies and explains it in black and white distinction. According to him, white people deemed local and black people in the societies they colonized and kept them equivalent to animals. Over time, the locals and blacks saw themselves as slaves and believed in the white man and paid the reasons for their belief by spending years in slavery and captivity. The knowledge which added their brain is created for superiority. So, we can say that for Fanon, relationship between knowledge and power is a key for authority.


According to him, the solution to this was for everyone to think of their own knowledge and truth, However, it was still not enough because how long could black people be exploited and used for years have been released? It was shaped by what the white man had taught him for centuries, and he considered himself low. And according to Fanon, the way to get past it and to be free was to do the same thing that the white man did. He tells them that their knowledge is correct, and the white man must show that his knowledge is wrong.

As Foucault thinks, if that the knowledge is power, that knowledge is created according to the interests of the authority and is a reality of them. Although Said has the same viewpoint, the focus is on one racial while on the other it appears as east-west. He argues that the use of the power of this knowledge has so many psychological effects on black people, and he is not wrong because if you say to a person forty times you are stupid, he starts to think after a while. That’s exactly where he gets angry. Managing their perceptions and brains by saying blacks “you are slaves”. He thinks that the only way to overcome this if he is a little bit ruthless is to do the same thing.

Definitions of Power according to Said, Foucault and Fanon


When everything is considered, our three theorists think that the power of knowledge is used in a very dangerous and manipulative way, and they beautifully explain to us how important the power of knowledge is. As Foucault said, the idea of creating an abnormal first to describe the normal, that is, reverse connections, the westerners use as an authority in the east to have and manage authority. And in the same way, as Fanon puts it, we can mention that whites use it to rule and rule over blacks. With sociological perspectives, you can understand relationship between knowledge and power better.


The point that the three intend to mention in essence is that this knowledge is not actually our own knowledge and is placed in our heads. And the only way to overcome this is to create our own knowledge and reality. Otherwise, we will take shape according to the knowledge of those who hold the power and accept their truth in time. If you think about it, you accept and approve the knowledge, and even support it. And after a while, you see that your self is not yourself, but yourself, which is formed by the authority that holds power, has decided.


In this scenario, we are all nothing but monkeys in the circus. While Foucault approached this aphorism more descriptively, Said and Fanon show a good work on the distinction between East and West and Black and White by showing us the areas where it is applied.