Michel Foucault remains a controversial figure in social theory, his ideas giving rise to both loathing and adoration in equal measure. Writing from the 1960s to the 1980s, his work spans the disciplines of history, sociology and philosophy, and defies easy categorisation and elucidation. In this paper we attempt to situate Foucault's approach within the broad sweep of sociological thought in the late 20th century. We describe some of his central ideas, before moving on to critique his work and the contribution he and his adherents have made to medical sociology. Finally, we suggest how scholars might draw on his ideas to guide their research in pharmacy practice and social pharmacy.