The idea of the repressive hypothesis within a discourse – Enjoy!

The idea of the repressive hypothesis in Foucault’s History of Sexuality finds its crucial formula in what Foucault would call a notion of silence. Foucault calls silence “the absolute limit of discourse (page 27)” and characterizes silence as a discretion between speakers. I think this is the function of the repressive hypothesis. The repressive hypothesis is a limitation of discourse and separates it into what can and cannot be said.

I find Foucault’s thoughts on silence and repression to be interesting in his notion of multiple silences. Foucault considers silence to be not only negative but an integral part of “over-all strategies (page 27)” that functions alongside the things side things said and permeates discourses. To combat the overall control of these discourses, Foucault says that “we must try to determine the different ways of not saying such things, how those who can and those who cannot speak of them are distributed, which type of discourse is authorized, or which form of discretion is required in either care (page 27)”. I think what Foucault is trying to say is that there are particular things that are repressed and censored in relation to a specific discourse.


In conclusion, with relation to the media, I think this way of thinking about discourses is very helpful. For example certain movies are distributed based on age, and certain themes within those movies are allowed for certain ages, such as drugs and violence. Most interestingly, I think the most obvious example is the case of swearing, which are censored for PG movies.


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