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Michel Foucault


May appear more humane, but Foucault questions these assumptions ... In contemporary societies, power is exercised through discipline rather than repression ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Michel Foucault

  • Michel Foucault

Foucault vs. Marx
  • Like Marx, Foucault interested in inequality, in
    the exercise of power but he departs from
    Marxist approaches in fundamental ways
  • Foucault criticizes presumption of historical
  • Foucault criticizes attempt to create
  • Foucault criticizes notion that theorists can
    chart path to alternative future
  • For Foucault, there is no escaping the house of
  • Foucault focuses on way in which individual is
    forged by society, way modern institutions
    exercise power on individuals in subtle ways
  • Marx
  • capitalism is structure of domination
    individuals are exploited (and exploitative) when
    inside this structure
  • only answer is to break system, create new one
  • Foucault
  • the individual is created by society such that
    power is internalized we perpetuate our own

Criticism of progress
  • Transition from extraordinarily brutal to more
    civilized forms of punishment
  • May appear more humane, but Foucault questions
    these assumptions
  • Progression from scaffold ? prison is same as
  • spectacular brutality/repression ?
  • passionate punishment ? discipline
  • imposing pain on body ? reworking soul
  • Modern punishment intended to cure rather than
  • Sites of punishment expand beyond scaffold to
    schools, hospitals, family, churches
  • punishment becomes rehabilitation
  • intended not to punish offense but to neutralize
    persons dangerous side, restore individual so
    s/he can function in society
  • punishment is, in a sense, treatment (p 22)

  • Hallmark of contemporary society is melding of
    knowledge and power and its use for social
  • Means more than simply knowledge is power gt by
    knowing, we control
  • In contemporary societies, power is exercised
    through discipline rather than repression

  • Definition of discipline
  • Discipline may be identified neither with an
    institution nor with an apparatus it is a type
    of power, a modality for its exercise, comprising
    a whole set of instruments, techniques,
    procedures, levels of application, targets it is
    a physics or an anatomy of power, a
    technology. (p. 215)
  • Power is a network of relations, constantly in
    tension, in activity, rather than a privilege
    that one might possess one should take as its
    model a perpetual battle this power is exercised
    rather than possessed it is not the privilege
    of the dominant class, but the overall effect of
    its strategic positions an effect that is
    manifested and sometimes extended by the position
    of those who are dominated. (p. 26)

  • We live in a world crisscrossed with instruments
    of power/knowledge no one possesses these, but
    they shape all of us in ways that induce
  • We are produced by this system we replicate it
    it is not external to us
  • Discipline makes individuals it is the
    specific technique of power that regards
    individuals both as objects and as instruments of
    its exercise. (p 170)

  • Why did you come to class today?
  • Why are you taking this class at all?

  • Instruments of disciplinary power Hierarchical
    observation, Normalizing judgments, Examination

Hierarchical observation
  • Watching people provides a great way to control
  • Perfect disciplinary apparatus single gaze sees
    everything constantly (p 173)
  • By means of such surveillance, disciplinary
    power became an integrated system, linked from
    the inside to the economy and to the aims of the
    mechanism in which it was practiced. It was also
    organized as a multiple, automatic, and anonymous
    power for although surveillance rests on
    individuals, its functioning is that of a network
    of relations from top to bottom, but also to a
    certain extent, from bottom to top and laterally.
    The power in the hierarchized surveillance of the
    disciplines is not possessed as a thing, or
    transferred as a property it functions like a
    piece of machinery. And, although it is true that
    its pyramidal organization gives it a head, it is
    the apparatus as a whole that produces power
    and distributes individuals in this permanent and
    continuous field. (pp 176-77)

Hierarchical observation
  • Disciplinary power is indiscreet (everywhere and
    always alert, affecting everyone) and discreet
    (functions permanently, largely in silence) (p
  • Discipline makes possible the operation of a
    relational power that sustains itself by its own
    mechanism and which, for the spectacle of public
    events, substitutes the uninterrupted play of
    calculated gazes. (p. 177)

Normalizing judgment
  • 5 points
  • 1. At heart of all disciplinary systems
    functions a small penal mechanism. (p. 177)
  • workshop, school etc. subject to micro-penality
    of time, speech, activity, and the body
  • whole series of subtle procedures used
    everything might serve to punish and every
    departure from correct behavior might be punished

Normalizing judgment
  • 2. offenses are not only infractions but
    inabilities to measure up to required level
  • enforced order is artificial (laid down by
    explicit law) and also natural (defined by
    natural and observable processes relating to
    ones ability to conform, i.e. cant require
    students to read at a level beyond their
    development) gtpunishment has a double
    juridico-natural reference (p. 179)

Normalizing judgment
  • 3. disciplinary punishment has function of
    reducing gaps -gt its corrective
  • favors punishments that are exercise-intensified,
    multiplied forms of training (allow means of
    advancing subjects progress through correcting
  • under discipline, not so much the vengeance of an
    outraged law as its repetition, insistence
  • expiation, repentance only incidental
  • to punish is to exercise (p. 180)

Normalizing judgment
  • 4. punishment (disciplinary power) is only one
    element of double system gratification-punishment
  • this 2-element mechanism makes possible
    definition of behavior, performance on basis of 2
    opposed values of good/evil
  • all behavior falls in field between good pole and
    bad pole, so it is possible to quantify field,
    obtain punitive balance-sheet of each individual
    ? can hierarchize good and bad subjects in
    relation to one another ? differentiation not of
    acts, but of individuals

Normalizing judgment
  • 5. distribution according to ranks marks gaps
    and also punishes/rewards
  • rank in itself is a reward (or punishment)
  • double effect distributes individuals according
    to aptitude or conduct exercises pressure to
    conform to same model (p. 182)
  • traces the external frontier of the abnormal
  • the perpetual penality that traverses all points
    and supervises every instant in the disciplinary
    institutions compares, differentiates,
    hierarchizes, homogenizes, excludes. In short it
    normalizes. (p. 183)

  • The disciplinary mechanisms secreted a penality
    of the norm, which is irreducible in its
    principles and functioning to the traditional
    penality of the law. The minor court that seems
    to sit permanently in the buildings of
    discipline, and which sometimes assumes the
    theatrical form of the great legal apparatus,
    must not mislead us it does not bring, except
    for a few formal remnants, the mechanisms of
    criminal justice to the web of everyday
    existence the disciplines createda new
    functioning of punishment, and it was this that
    gradually invested the great external apparatus.
    (p 183)

The Examination
  • new mechanism that linked knowledge to power (p.
  • 1. transformed the economy of visibility into the
    exercise of power
  • disciplinary power is exercised through its
    invisibility at the same time it imposes on
    those whom it subjects a principle of compulsory
    visibility. (p 187)
  • In discipline, it is the subjects who have to be
    seen their visibility assures the hold of the
    power that is exercised over them. (p 187)
  • The examination is the technique by which power,
    instead of emitting the signs of its potency,
    instead of imposing its mark on its subjects,
    holds them in a mechanism of objectification. (p
  • inversion of visibility in sovereign power, the
    sovereign was seen in disciplinary power,
    subjects are seen

The Examination
  • 2. introduces individuality into field of
  • situates individuals in a network of writing it
    engages them in a whole mass of documents that
    capture and fix them ( p 189)
  • intense registration, documentation
  • made possible to integrate individual data into
    cumulative systems in such a way that an
    individual could be located in the general
    register (p 190)

The Examination
  • 3. makes each individual a case
  • each individual becomes object of descriptions
    and biographical accounts
  • examination as the fixing, at once ritual and
    scientific, of individual differences, as the
    pinning down of each individual in his own
    particularity clearly indicates the appearance
    of a new modality of power in which he is linked
    by his status to the features, the measurements,
    the gaps, the marks that characterize him and
    make him a case. (p 192)

The Examination
  • examination is the center of procedures that
    constitute the individual as the effect and
    object of power/knowledge (p 192)
  • this is how individuals are made what makes us
    an individual is what distinguishes us from
    others, and examination is process by which we
    observe and mark that distinction
  • under sovereign power, ascending
    individualization individualization is
    greatest if powerful
  • under disciplinary power, descending
    individualizationless powerful individuals more
    subjected to disciplinary gaze

The panopticon
The panopticon
  • individual is seen, but does not see
  • the perfection of power renders its actual
    exercise (force) unnecessary
  • the ceremonies, the rituals, the marks by which
    a sovereigns surplus power was manifested are
    useless. There is a machinery that assures
    dissymmetry, disequilibrium, difference.
    Consequently, it does not matter who exercises
    power. (p 202)
  • he who is subjected to a field of visibility,
    and who knows it, assumes responsibility for the
    constraints of power he makes them play
    spontaneously upon himself he inscribes in
    himself the power relation in which he
    simultaneously plays both roles he becomes the
    principle of his own subjection. (p 202-3)

We all live in the panopticon!
  • panopticon therefore becomes great and new
    instrument of government, applicable to other
    institutions outside penitentiary (p 207)
  • Panopticon is intended to make power more
    economic and more effective, it does so not for
    power itself, nor for the immediate salvation of
    a threatened society its aim is to strengthen
    the social forces to increase production, to
    develop the economy, spread education, raise the
    level of public morality to increase and
    multiply. (p. 208)
  • two examples of panoptic discipline in the
    prison (exceptional discipline) and in society as
    a whole (generalized surveillance) (p 209)
  • historically, moved from exceptional discipline
    to its extension across society
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