Friday, December 29, 2017

Discipline and Punish / Foucault - summary notes

“Discipline and Punish” Foucault (1975)
o   Foucault argues in "Discipline and Punish" that  Enlightenment, which invented the liberties, also invented the disciplines
o   Discipline is a series of techniques by which the body's operations can be controlled
o   Discipline worked by coercing and arranging the individual's movements and his experience of space and time
o   This is achieved by devices such as timetables and military drills, and the process of exercise
o   Through discipline, individuals are created out of a mass. Disciplinary power has three elements:
1)      hierarchical observation
2)      normalizing judgment
3)      examination
o   Observation and the gaze are key instruments of power
o    By these processes, and through the human sciences, the notion of the norm developed
o   Disciplinary power is exemplified by Bentham's Panopticon, a building that shows how individuals can be supervised and controlled efficiently
o   Institutions modeled on the panopticon begin to spread throughout society (see Foucault's Panopiticism)
o   Prison develops from this idea of discipline
o   It aims both to deprive the individual of his freedom and to reform him
o   The penitentiary is the next development. It combines the prison with the workshop and the hospital
o   The penitentiary replaces the prisoner with the delinquent
o   The delinquent is created as a response to changes in popular illegality, in order to marginalize and control popular behavior
o   The prison is part of a network of power that spreads throughout society, and which is controlled by the rules of strategy alone
o   Power in knowledge: custom in our society that power is localized in the hands of the  governments and that it is exercised through a certain number of particular institutions, such as the administration, police or army
à Made to transmit and apply a certain number of orders and to punish those who don’t obey
à Many institutions that look to have nothing in common with political power also exercise political power (hospitals, schools, etc.)
o   Rise of a new kind of power, a new kind of governmentality (prison, schools. hospitals, factories, etc.)

o   History:
1)      17th century: era of absolute monarchs: power was visible and repressive, crime= offense against the king
·         Punishment= ritual, symbolic reproduction of power (public torture)
·         Punishment equals the crime
·         Punishment directed to the physical, external body
2)      Mid 18th century
·         Politics: French revolution
·         Knowledge: Age of Enlightenment
·         Economy: rise of capitalist industrial economy
·         Punishment:
§  Crime= offense against society
§  At stake= public hygiene, the body politic
§  Punishment= re-educating, normalizing the offender
§  Effective & efficient correction (not symbolic ritual)
§  Offender becomes the object of observing, knowing
§  Disciplining
§  Punishment directed to the soul (not the body)
·         Shift from the power of the monarch to the disciplinary institutions (prison, hospitals, schools, army)
·         Power from restrictive (do not) and destructive (corporal punishment) towards productive
·         Power not centralized but distributed in different institutions
·         Micro power, subtle forms of coercion that is everywhere, continuously, anonymous, non-personal
·         Disciplinary techniques such as distribution of individuals in space, under observation, makes individuals comparable units, subject for correction
·         From visibility monarch to visibility individual citizen
·         Normalization: examination, observation, dossiers archives à classification, comparison
3)      20th century: The health care panopticon
·         Registered from birth until death
·         Continuous monitoring, risk classification, correcting, creating modern disciplined subjects
·         Normalizing children in public health, in schools, universities
·         Normalizing mothers during sexual relationships, marriage, pregnancy, child rearing, etc.
·         What about freedom in public health?
§  Everybody in a capitalist society is an object of the normalizing disciplines à is there an escape?
§  Kant 1784: “I have a book that thinks for me, a pastor who acts as my conscience, a physician who prescribes my diet then I have no need to exert myself”

o   Result of biopower
o   Archives enable classification and comparison
o   Enabling a normalizing judgment
·         norm= empirical, statistical, measured by sciences (not an expression of morals)
o   Knowledge (human sciences) advanced in prison, hospitals, schools, army, etc.
o   Correcting: producing ‘normal’ citizens, soldiers, children, mothers
o   Explosion of numerous and diverse techniques for achieving the subjugations of bodies and the control of populations by governing institutions
à Correcting the pathological towards the ‘norm’
·         People start correcting themselves according to the norm
o   Biopolitics: deployed to manage population (e.g. to ensure a healthy workforce) à discipline is the technology to make individuals behave, to be productive workers

o   Discipline is a way of controlling the movement and operations of the body in a constant way
o   It is a type of power that coerces the body by regulating and dividing up its movement, and the space and time in which it moves
o   Timetables and the ranks into which soldiers are arranged are examples of this regulation
o   The disciplines are the methods by which this control became possible
o   Foucault traces the origins of discipline back to monasteries and armies
·         He is clear, however, that the concept changed in the eighteenth century
·         Discipline became a widely used technique to control whole populations
·         The modern prison, and indeed the modern state, is unthinkable without this idea of the mass control of bodies and movement

o   The basic unit that Foucault analyzes in all his works
o   Foucault defines the discourse as a system in which certain knowledge is possible
o   Discourses determine what is true or false in a particular field
o   The discourse of psychiatry, for example, determines what it is possible to know about madness
o   Saying things outside of a discourse is almost impossible
o   Foucault's argument about prisons is a good example:
·         Abolishing the prison is unthinkable partly because we do not have the words to describe any alternative
·         The prison is at the center of the modern discourse of punishment
o   Discourses such as that of modern punishment define what it is possible to say and do about certain things
Human Sciences
o   Together, human sciences create a regime of power that controls and describes human behavior in terms of norms
o   By setting out what is "normal", the human sciences also create the idea of abnormality or deviation
o   An average standard created by the human sciences against which people are measured
o   Idea of the "normal" also implies the existence of the abnormal
o   Idea of deviance is possible only where norms exist
o   For Foucault, norms are concepts that are constantly used to evaluate and control us:
·         They also exclude those who cannot conform to "normal" categories
·         As such, they are an unavoidable but somehow harmful feature of modern society
o   Particular system of punishment a society uses
o   Includes all aspects of the examination and treatment of those who break the law
o   Foucault's conception of power is a central part of this work
o   Power is a relationship between people in which one affects another's actions
o   Power is a strategy, or a game not consciously played by individuals but one that operates within the machinery of society
o   Power affects everyone, from the prisoner to the prison guard, but no one individual can "control" it
o   Power differs from force or violence, which affect the body physically
o   It involves making a free subject do something that he would not have done otherwise
à Power therefore involves restricting or altering someone's will
o   Power is present in all human relationships, and penetrates throughout society
o   The state does not have a monopoly over power, because power relations are deeply unstable and changeable
o   Patterns of domination do exist in society: for example, the modern power to punish was established through the action of the human sciences
o   The relationship between power and knowledge is also an important one
o   The human sciences are able to control and exclude people because they make claims to both knowledge and power
o   To claim that a statement is true is also to make a claim to power because truth can only be produced by power
o   Criminology can make claims that exclude the delinquent, for example, because a system of power relations exists in which the delinquent is dominated

Power and knowledge (see extended summary on Foucault's power and knowledge)
o   Discipline and Punish essentially charts the reorganization of the power to punish, and the development of various bodies of knowledge (the human sciences) that reinforce and interact with that power
o   The modern power to punish is based on the supervision and organization of bodies in time and space, according to strict technical methods
o   The modern knowledge that Foucault describes is the knowledge that relates to human nature and behavior, which is measured against a norm
o   Foucault's point is that one cannot exist without the other:
1)      The power and techniques of punishment depend on knowledge that creates and classifies individuals
2)      and that knowledge derives its authority from certain relationships of power and domination

The body and the soul
o   The body as an object to be acted upon
o   Foucault charts the transition to a situation where the body is no longer immediately affected
o   The body will always be affected by punishment—because we cannot imagine a non-corporal punishment
o   but in the modern system, Foucault says, the body is arranged, regulated and supervised rather than tortured
o   Move from a situation where the criminal's body is attacked, to one where we are all disciplined and controlled
o   overall aim of the penal process becomes the reform of the soul, rather than the punishment of the body
o   the soul gradually replaces the body as the focus of punishment and reform
o   Ideas such as the psyche, conscience, and good behavior are effects created by a particular regime of power and knowledge
o   When the power to judge shifted to a judgment about normal and abnormal, the modern soul was formed
Prison and society
o   The relationship between the prison and the wider society cannot be stressed enough
o   mechanisms of discipline that control the delinquent also control the citizen
o   The prison is part of a "carceral network" that spreads throughout society, infiltrating and penetrating everywhere
Analysis of “Discipline and Punishment”
o   The body-soul shift is central to Discipline and Punish
o   For Foucault, the body has a real existence, but the "modern soul" is a recent invention
o   Invention of the soul allows new possibilities:
1)       It allows you to consider why the crime occurred; the motives that drive the criminal become knowable, and the subject of investigation
2)      It becomes possible to consider the criminal beyond the crime and its punishment
à Instead of inflicting a painful penalty it becomes possible to supervise and investigate him
o   The shift from body to soul also marks the end of the public idea of punishment, because whilst the body has to be tortured in public, the soul is a private thing
o   Rise of human sciences: Psychiatry, social work, medicine and other professions assess and judge people according to standards called norms: they ultimately decide what is "normal" and "abnormal"
o   This involves judging not a crime but a person, making decisions about his sanity, his treatment, and even when he should be released
o   According to Foucault, the modern world has given the important power to judge to a shadowy body of professionals whose role is sometimes uncertain
o   Discipline creates individuality out of the bodies that it controls
o   It has four techniques: it draws up tables, it prescribes movements, it imposes exercises and arranges tactics
o   Highest form of disciplinary practice is war as strategy

Second chapter: Docile body
o   Body is not subject to torture but to forces of discipline and control
o   Foucault analyzes various technologies that control and affect the body
o   Docility is achieved through the actions of discipline
o   Discipline is different from force or violence because it is a way of controlling the operations and positions of the body
o   Fact that Foucault finds the roots of discipline in monasteries and armies is important
o   Institutions like prisons, schools and hospitals acted like machines for transforming and controlling people
à To do this, they fixed individuals in time and space
o   Regulation of time and space (in prisons e.g. the cells) is important for enforcing discipline
à The control of space and time is essential to Foucault's disciplinary system because they are the most basic elements of human life
·         Regulating them affects the way in which people act and think

Art of distributions
o   Discipline proceeds from the distribution of individuals in space
o   Employs several techniques:
1)      Discipline sometimes requires enclosure in a protected place, e.g. school
2)      Machinery works on the principle of partitioning space; it is always cellular
o   The key unit is the rank or place in a classification: rank begins to define the distribution of individuals in educational space
Control of activity
o   Time penetrates the body with all the controls of power
o   Traditional timetable forbids men to waste time
o   Dividing activities into series makes detailed control and intervention possible
Third chapter: The means of correct training
o   Success of disciplinary power depends on three elements:
1)      Hierarchical observation
·         Mechanism that coerces by means of observation
·         Disciplinary institutions created a mechanism of control
·         The perfect disciplinary mechanism would make it possible to see everything constantly
·         Monitoring techniques function as a sort of panopticon in which individual and collective work is rendered visible for the professionals themselves
2)      Normalizing judgment
·         Disciplinary punishment has to be corrective
·         Punishment defines behavior on the basis of good-evil
·         Discipline rewards and punishes by awarding ranks
·         Punishment differentiates individuals from each other by means of a rule that is the minimum of behavior
·         It measures individuals and places them in a hierarchical system
·         It also traces the abnormal
·         Normalization makes people homogeneous, but it also makes it possible to measure differences between individuals
3)      Examination
·         Examination unites the processes of observation and normalization
·         Represents the techniques of an observing hierarchy and those of a normalizing judgment (a gaze that makes it possible to qualify, classify and punish)
·         Example: organization of the hospital as an examining machine
·         Introduces individuality into the field of documentation
·         Each individual becomes a "case" that can be analyzed and described
·         Examination constitutes the individual as object of power
·         Power does not exclude or repress
o   The individual is a modern invention, a construction of power
o   It is a body that is observed, and compared to a "norm" of average behavior
o   Foucault's point about observation is that you can be coerced or forced to do something by being observed constantly
·         Not only do you feel self-conscious, but your behavior changes
·         Good example for operation of power: effect occurs on your body without physical violence
o   The perfect disciplinary institution is that in which everything can be seen at once
à Panopticon
o   What is normal is good, and what is abnormal is bad and must be corrected
o   Penalty becomes about correcting deviations from the norm, organizing people into ranks and classifications according to their "normality"
o   The aim of Discipline and Punish is to show how unnatural this process is
o   The more abnormal and excluded you are, the more individual you become
·         It has nothing to do with taking control over one's own life
Bentham’s panopticon
o   Foucault adopts the panopticon as a symbol
o   Building with a tower at the center from which it is possible to see each cell in which a prisoner or schoolboy is incarcerated
o   Each individual is seen but cannot communicate with the warders or other prisoners
o   The crowd is abolished
o   Induces a sense of permanent visibility that ensures the functioning of power
o   The prisoner can always see the tower but never knows from where he is being observed
o   It perfects the operations of power by increasing the number of people who can be controlled and decreasing the number needed to operate it
o   It gives power over people's minds through architecture
o   As it can be inspected from outside, there is no danger of tyranny
o   The panopticon was destined to spread throughout society
·         It makes power more economic and effective
o   To spread education, develop economy, improve public morality
o   Bentham develops the idea that disciplines could be dispersed throughout society
à Provides a formula for the functioning of a society that is penetrated by disciplinary mechanisms
à To make power operate more efficiently
o   The panopticon represents the way in which discipline and punishment work in modern society
·         how the processes of observation and examination operate
o   The disciplinary society is not necessarily one with a panopticon in every street: it is one where the state controls such methods of coercion and operates them throughout society
o   Foucault argues that more sophisticated societies offer greater opportunities for control and observation

Recommended books by and on Foucault:


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