Critical Response of Heterotopian-First Principle Essay Example


Critical response of heterotopia

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The concept of heterotopia, which was elaborated by Michel Foucault, defines places and spaces operating in non-hegemonic conditions. The spaces envisioned by Foucault are simultaneously mental and physical and can be traced to daily activities, such as seeing yourself in a mirror or making a phone call. According to Foucault, spaces are specific conditions under which a variety of activities takes place. The spaces of crisis, also known as spaces of deviation, are sacred places earmarked for individuals in human environment who are undergoing a state of crisis.

From the article, Foucault noted that the manner in which individuals experience the world changes from time to time depending on underlying societal conditions. There is a form of structuralism allowing people to deal with current and historical issues depending on their innovation, systems, theory or concerns. From historical perspective, real life of men has been characterized by numerous changes because of varied activities, discoveries, theories, cultures and knowledge.

Anxiety in the modern era emanates from problems surrounding appropriation of space. Although individuals in current society have a vast knowledge and techniques that could boost effective appropriation of space, success has never been achieved because a number of oppositions rules people (Budz, 2009). Societal practices and institutions have failed to break in-borne oppositions that inhibit appropriation of space.

Under the concept of heterotopia, there are unreal spaces that present perfected form of societies or societies turned upside down. The utopias can be traced to every culture ad civilization in the world. Heterotopias take countless forms, which changes from time to time. In the current society, heterotopia of crisis has been slowly disappearing. In its place, heterotopia of deviation has emerged. Every culture or community appears to have established certain standards. Individuals who fail to adhere to set standards are treated as deviant. Such individuals are separated from the rest of the society and placed in prisons, psychiatric hospitals and retirement homes. Sadly, old age is considered as deviation because leisure is considered as one of the main standards. In that respect, idleness or inactivity is treated as a form of deviation. The pre-set standards in modern world create space where every individual is expected to take roles that are deemed favorable. Every age and sex group is expected to take various roles aimed at achieving certain standards.

I tend to agree with Foucault on the concept of heterotopias of deviation. The concept has been proven true even in the post-modern society. Popular culture is a mass of standards where the youth are anticipated to take a dynamic role in pursuing their dreams via societal institutions and structures (Foucault, 1965). Systems and structures in post-modern society have clearly defined behavior. For instance, middle-aged women are expected to dress in a sexy manner. In addition, leisure activities have taken center stage. In that respect, aging population has little or no role to play in society unlike in olden days. Thus, many old people are in danger of being excluded from active role because retirement homes have been created to serve them.

Conversely, I disagree with the author because old people are in a transitional period where they could assume new roles in society. When they die, such people assume new forms in the world and continue to contribute to everyday processes. Old people should not be seen as non-participant in popular activities because after they die, they continue their societal functions from a different perspective.


(1), 18-35.3, International Political SociologyBudz, M. (2009). A Heterotopian Analysis of Maritime Refugee Incidents.

. New York: Pantheon Books.Madness and civilization; a history of insanity in the age of reason.Foucault, M. (1965).