was foucault the anti-weber?
At the last meeting of my social theory class, two rather punky undergraduate students started an argument. It went just like this, except for the stuff I made up:
You totally misinterpreted Foucault’s power theory in an otherwise magisterial lecture on post-structuralism. You claimed that Foucault offers an implicit critique of Weberian accounts of authority. You claimed that Weber focused on the types of authority wielded by specific people, like rational-legal authority and charisma, and thus Foucault’s account of decentralized power runs counter to this.
With all due respect, we dispute this characterization. We believe that Foucault’s analysis of discourse is highly congruent with Weber’s view that power resided in legitimacy, itself a diffuse feature of society.
Our disagreement does not diminish our belief that you are the best social theory instructor at Indiana.
Do you side with the punky undergrads? Is Foucault’s power theory really an alternative to Weber or did I commit sociological malpractice?