The first part of the chapter investigates the significance of Foucault’s concepts of power and discourse for feminist theory. In order to understand the impact of the Foucauldian model for feminist theory and politics it is important to contextualise Foucault’s work within the broader debate within social theory around the epistemological and methodological implications of poststructuralism in general.

The relevance of Foucault for feminist theory will be considered in terms of both the contradictions within Foucauldian analysis itself and between feminist theory and Foucault’s model of power and discourse. Some of the problems emerging for feminism in adopting a Foucauldian model of power and discourse will be assessed, as well as the intersection of feminism and poststructuralism more generally for issues such as ‘patriarchy’, ‘oppression’ and resistance.