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Discipline and Punish

Discipline and Punish Michel Foucault (trans. Robert Hurley)

Part One: Torture

1. The body of the condemned

This first section of Part One serves as an introduction to the entire book.  Examples of eighteenth-century torture provide Foucault with many colorful episodes to relate in his account of how penality changed in modernity.  Foucault relates an explicit account of Damien's torture to introduce his subject (3-5) and compares that account of penality to Faucher's timetable for prisoners published in approximately 1837 (6-7).


The period separating these two accounts is a "new age for penal justice" in Europe and the United States that saw changes in the following areas:


-- Economy of punishment

-- Numerous projects for reform


-- New theories of law and crime


-- New moral and political justifications of the right to punish


-- The disappearance of old laws and customs (7).


In the span of only a few decades between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, torture as public spectacle disappeared (7) as did "the body as the major target of penal repression" (8).  Two processes were at work in this transformation:


(1) Disappearance of punishment as spectacle (8); and


(2) Slackening of the hold on the body (10)


Disappearance of punishment as spectacle (8)


Punishment becomes a hidden part of the penal process with several consequences:


(1) It leaves the domain of everyday perception and enters that of abstract consciousness;


(2) Its effectiveness is seen as resulting from its inevitability, not from its visible intensity;


(3) It is the certainty of being punished and not the horrifying spectacle of public punishment that must discourage crime;


(4) The mechanics of punishment changes its mechanisms; thus, "justice no longer takes public responsibility for the violence that is bound up with its practice . . .[and] is difficult to account for" (9). 


Public spectacle turned the tables, enveloping the executioner, judge, and other associated parties in shame and often the subject of the public's violence.  The change from punishment as public spectacle saw the offender unequivocally marked with the negative sign; the publicity shifted to the trial and justice dissociated itself from execution, trusting autonomous others to do the job (9-10).  E.g., in France, prison administration duties were the responsibility of the Ministry of the Interior, but responsibility for penal servitude in the convict ships and penal settlements lay with the Ministry of the Navy or the Ministry of the Colonies.


"Beyond this distribution of roles operates a theoretical disavowal: do not imagine that the sentences that we judges pass are activated by a desire to punish; they are intended to correct, reclaim, 'cure'; a technique of improvement represses, in the penalty, the strict expiation of evil-doing, and relieves the magistrates of the demeaning task of punishing.  In modern justice and on the part of those who dispense it there is a shame in punishing, which does not always preclude zeal" (10).


Slackening of the hold on the body (10)


-- "One no longer touched the body, or at least as little as possible, and then only to reach something other than the body itself" (11). 


-- "The body now serves as an instrument or intermediary: if one intervenes upon it to imprison it, or to make it work, it is in order to deprive the individual of a liberty that is regarded both as a right and as property" (11). 


-- "From being an art of unbearable sensations punishment has become an economy of suspended rights" (11).


-- "The body and pain are not the ultimate objects of [the law's] punitive action," thus warders, doctors, chaplains, psychiatrists, psychologists, and educationalists have taken over from the executioner (11).


-- "Impose penalties free of all pain" (11).


-- "The reduction of these 'thousand deaths' to strict capital punishment defines a whole new morality concerning the act of punishing" (12).


-- "At the beginning of the nineteenth century, then, the great spectacle of physical punishment disappeared; the tortured body was avoided; the theatrical representation of pain was excluded from punishment" (14). 

-- "By 1830-1848, public executions preceded by torture had almost entirely disappeared," though this change was not continuous (14). 


-- "There remains a trace of 'torture' in the modern mechanisms of criminal justice – a trace that has not been entirely overcome, but which is enveloped, increasingly, by the non-corporal nature of the penal system" (16). 


-- The body has not been completely removed because of the implications of removing freedom, e.g., food rationing, sexual deprivation, solitary confinement.


"If the penality in its most severe forms no longer addresses itself to the body, on what does it lay hold?" (16).


"There is a substitution of objects: the quality, the nature, and the substance of "crime" has changed in its sense as the substance of which the punishable element is made (as opposed to its formal definition).  Judgment is passed on offenses as defined by law, but judgment is also passed on passions, instincts, anomalies, infirmities, maladjustments, effects of environment or heredity, aggressivity, perversions, drives, and desires" (17). 


"By solemnly inscribing offences in the field of objects susceptible of scientific knowledge, they provide the mechanisms of legal punishment with a justifiable hold not only on offences, but on individuals; not only on what they do, but also on what they are, will be, may be" (18).


"Within the very judicial modality of judgment, other types of assessment have slipped in, profoundly altering its rules of elaboration" (19).


Old Question    New Question


Has the act been established and is it punishable?    What is this act, what is this act of violence or this murder?  To what level or to what field of reality does it belong?  Is it a phantasy, a psychotic reaction, a delusional episode, a perverse action?


Who committed it?    How can we assign the causal process that produced it?  Where did it originate in the author himself?  instinct, unconscious, environment, heredity?


What law punishes this offence?    What would be the most appropriate measures to take?  How do we see the future development of the offender?  What would be the best way of rehabilitating him?


"A whole set of assessing, diagnostic, prognostic, normative judgments concerning the criminal have become lodged in the framework of penal judgment" (19).


"The reform of 1832, introducing attenuating circumstances, made it possible to modify the sentence according to the supposed degrees of an illness or the forms of a semi-insanity.  And the practice of calling on psychiatric expertise . . .means that the sentence, even if it is always formulated in terms of legal punishment, implies . . .judgments of normality, attributions of causality, assessments of possible changes, anticipations as to the offender's future" (20).


"The sentence that condemns or acquits is not simply a judgment of guilt, a legal decision that lays down punishment' it bears within it an assessment of normality and a technical prescription for a possible normalization" (21).

"The whole machinery that has been developing for years around the implementation of sentences and their adjustment to individuals creates a proliferation of the authorities of judicial decision-making and extends its powers of decision well beyond the sentence" (21).


"Let us examine the three questions to which [psychiatric experts] have to address themselves:

(1) Does the convicted person represent a danger to society?


(2) Is he susceptible to penal punishment?


(3) Is he curable or readjustable? 


"These questions have nothing to do with article 64, nor with the possible insanity of the convicted person at the moment of the act.  They do not concern 'responsibility.'  They concern nothing but the administration of the penalty, its necessity, its usefulness, its possible effectiveness; they make it possible to show, in an almost transparent vocabulary, whether the mental hospital would be a more suitable place of confinement than the prison, whether this confinement should be short or long, whether medical treatment of security measures are called for.  What, then, is the role of the psychiatrist in penal matters?  He is not an expert in responsibility, but an adviser on punishment' it is up to him to say whether the subject is 'dangerous,' in what way one should be protected from him, how one should intervene to alter him, whether it would be better to try to force him into submission or to treat him" (21-22).


"To sum up, ever since the new penal system – that defined by the great codes of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries – has been in operation, a general process has led judges to judge something other than crimes; they have been led in their sentences to do something other than judge; and the power of judging has been transferred in part, to other authorities than the judges of the offence.  The whole penal operation has taken on extra-juridical elements and personnel" (22).


"Today, criminal justice functions and justifies itself only by this perpetual reference to something other than itself, by this unceasing reinscription in non-juridical systems.  Its fate is to be redefined by knowledge" (22).

"A corpus of knowledge, techniques, 'scientific' discourses is formed and becomes entangled with the practice of the power to punish" (23).


Four guidelines of Foucault's study:


(1) Do not concentrate the study of the punitive mechanisms on their 'repressive' effect alone, on their 'punishment' aspects alone, but situate them in a whole series of their possible positive effects, even if these seem marginal at first sight.  As a consequence, regard punishment as a complex social function.


(2) Analyse punitive methods not simply as consequences of legislation or as indicators of social structures, but as techniques possessing their own specificity in the more general field of other ways of exercising power.  Regard punishment as a political tactic.


(3) Instead of treating the history of penal law and the history of the human sciences as two separate series whose overlapping appears to have had on one or the other, or perhaps on both, a disturbing or useful effect, according to one's point of view, see whether there is not some common matrix or whether they do not both derive from a single process of 'epistemologico-juridical' formation' in short, make the technology of power the very principle both of the humanization of the penal system and of the knowledge of man.


(4) Try to discover whether this entry of the soul onto the scene of penal justice, and with it the insertion in legal practice of a whole corpus of 'scientific' knowledge, is not the effect of a transformation of the way in which the body itself is invested by power relations.


"In short, try to study the metamorphosis of punitive methods on the basis of a political technology of the body in which might be read a common history of power relations and object relations.  Thus, by an analysis of penal leniency as a technique of power, one might understand both how man, the soul, the normal or abnormal individual have come to duplicate crime as objects of penal intervention; an din what way a specific mode of subjection was able to give birth to man as an object of knowledge for a discourse with a 'scientific' status" (24).


Foucault references Rusche and Kirchheimer's "great work": Punishment and Social Structures. 


Introductory summaries of how the body is used in the penal system


We must rid ourselves of the illusion that penality is a means of reducing crime and that it may be severe or lenient, tend towards expiation of obtaining redress, towards the pursuit of individuals or the attribution of collective responsibility (24).


-- We must analyse the concrete systems of punishment as social phenomena that cannot be accounted for by the juridical structure of society alone, nor by its ethical choices.


-- We must situate systems of punishment in their field of operation in which the punishment of crime is not the sole element.


-- We must show that punitive measures are not simply 'negative' mechanisms that make it possible to repress, to prevent, to exclude, to eliminate, but that they are linked to a whole series of positive and useful effects which it is their task to support.


"In our societies, the systems of punishment are to be situated in a certain 'political economy' of the body: . . .it is always the body that is at issue – the body and its forces, their utility and their docility, their distribution and their submission" (25).


"The body is directly involved in a political field; power relations have an immediate hold upon it; they invest it, mark it, train it, torture it, force it to carry out tasks, to perform ceremonies, to emit signs.  This political investment of the body is bound up . . .with its economic use; it is largely as a force of production that the body is invested with relations of power and domination; but, on the other hand, its constitution as labour power is possible only if it is caught up in a system of subjection in which need is also a political instrument meticulously prepared, calculated and used; the body becomes a useful force only if it is both a productive body and a subjected body" (25-6).

"There may be a 'knowledge' of the body that is not exactly the science of its functioning, and a mastery of its forces that is more than the ability to conquer them: this knowledge and this mastery constitute what might be called the political technology of the body.  This technology is diffuse, rarely formulated in continuous, systematic discourse, made up of bits and pieces, implements a disparate set of tools or methods, cannot be localized in a particular type of institution or state apparatus" (26).


Power and the body

-- The power exercised on the body is conceived not as a property, but as a strategy;


-- Its effects of domination are attributed not to 'appropriation,' but to dispositions, manoeuvres, tactics, techniques, functionings;


-- One should decipher in it 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 rather than a contract.


-- This power is exercised rather than possessed;


-- It is not the 'privilege,' acquired or preserved, 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.

-- This power is not exercised simply as an obligation or a prohibition on those who 'do not have it'; it invests them, is transmitted by them and through them; it exerts pressure upon them, just as they themselves, in their struggle against it, resist the grip it has on them.  This means that these relations go right down into the depths of society, that they are not localized in the relations between the state and its citizens or on the frontier between classes and that they do not merely reproduce, at the level of individuals, bodies, gestures, and behavior, the general form of the law or government; that, although there is continuity, there is neither analogy nor homology, but a specificity of mechanism and modality. 


-- Lastly, they are not univocal; they define innumerable points of confrontation, focuses of instability, each of which has its own risks of conflict, of struggles, and of an at least temporary inversion of the power relations" (26-7).


"Power produces knowledge . . .power and knowledge directly imply one another . . .there is no power relation without the correlative constitution of a field of knowledge, nor any knowledge that does not presuppose and constitute at the same time power relations.  These 'power-knowledge relations' are to be analysed [on the basis of] the subject who knows, the objects to be known, and the modalities of knowledge must be regarded as so many effects of these fundamental implications of power-knowledge and their historical transformations" (28).

"It is not the activity of the subject of knowledge that produces a corpus of knowledge . . .but power-knowledge, the processes and struggles that traverse it and of which it is made up, that determines the forms and possible domains of knowledge" (28).


The body politic: a set of material elements and techniques that serve as weapons, relays, communication routes and supports for the power and knowledge relations that invest human bodies and subjugate them by turning them into objects of knowledge (28).


The "soul" exists, has a reality, is produced permanently around, on, and within the body by the functioning of  a power that is exercised on those punished, on those one supervises, trains and corrects, over madmen, children at home and at school, the colonized, over those who are stuck at a machine and supervised for the rest of their lives.  This soul is born of methods of punishment, supervision and constraint.  It is "the element in which are articulated the effects of a certain type of power and the reference of a certain type of knowledge, the machinery by which the power relations give rise to a possible corpus of knowledge and knowledge extends and reinforces the effects of this power" (29).


"The soul is the effect and instrument of a political anatomy" (30).


2. The spectacle of the scaffold


"Torture is a technique; it is not an extreme expression of lawless rage.  To be torture, punishment must obey three principal criteria:


(1) It must produce a certain degree of pain.


(2) The production of pain is regulated.


(3) Torture forms part of a ritual [that] meets two demands.  It must mark the victim . . .[and] public torture and execution must be spectacular" (33-4).

Eighteenth-century judicial practices


Aspects of judicial procedures:


-- "The secret and written form of the [judicial] procedure reflects the principle that in criminal matters the establishment of truth was the absolute right and the exclusive power of the sovereign and his judges" (35).


-- "We have, then, a penal arithmetic that is meticulous on many points, but which still leaves a margin for a good deal of argument" (37).


-- "Written, secret, subjected, in order to construct its proofs, to rigorous rules, the penal investigation was a machine that might produce the truth in the absence of the accused" (37).


-- The power of the confession reduced the need for other evidence or argument with the criminal's acceptance of his own responsibility for his own crime (37-8)


-- Judicial torture: the rule was that if the accused 'held out' and did not confess, the magistrate was forced to drop the charges.  Investigation and punishment had become mixed (40-1).


Upon the pronouncement of guilt


The guilty man openly bore his condemnation and the truth of the crime he had committed.  His body served as the public support of a procedure and had several aspects:


(1) It made the guilty man the herald of his own condemnation


(2) It took up again the scene of the confession


(3) It established the relation between the crime and the torture


(4) Demonstrated ultimate proof at the juncture of men's judgment and God's judgment


"From the judicial torture to the execution, the body has produced and reproduced the truth of the crime – or rather it constitutes the element which, through a whole set of rituals and trials, confesses that the crime took place, admits that the accused did indeed commit it, shows that he bore it inscribed in himself and on himself, supports the operation of punishment and manifests its effects in the most striking way.  The body, several times tortured, provides the synthesis of the reality of the deeds and the truth of the investigation, of the documents of the case and the statements of the criminal, of the crime and the punishment.  It is an essential element, therefore, in a penal liturgy, in which it must serve as the partner of a procedure ordered around the formidable rights of the sovereign, the prosecution and secrecy" (47).


Public execution as political ritual


The law represents the will of the sovereign, thus transgression of the law constitutes an attack on the sovereign.


Public execution:


-- restores the total power of the sovereign;


-- is an exercise of terror to make all aware of the unrestrained presence of the sovereign;


-- reactivates power;

-- is a triumph of law.

The precise function of torture, then, had judicial and political purposes:


-- It revealed truth and showed the operation of power.


-- It assured the articulation of the written on the oral, the secret on the public, the procedure of investigation on the operation of the confession.


-- It made it possible to reproduce the crime on the visible body of the criminal.


-- The crime had to be manifested and annulled.


-- It made the body of the condemned man the place where the vengeance of the sovereign was applied, the anchoring point for a manifestation of power, an opportunity of affirming the dissymmetry of forces.


"The people" and the popularization (romanticization?) of crime


In a public execution, "the people" played roles of audience, witness, participant, and possible and indirect victim (68).  In the history of public execution, riots were an increasing possibility as the people disagreed with the conviction.  Thus, toward the end of this practice, "the great spectacle of punishment ran the risk of being rejected by the very people to whom it was addressed" (63)


"Never did the people feel more threatened than by legal violence exercised without moderation or restraint.  The solidarity of a whole section of the population with those we would call petty offenders . . .was constantly expressed . . .it was the breaking up of this solidarity that was becoming the aim of penal and police repression" (63).


At the same time, more "crime literature" was being written that served to heroicize criminals and their deeds (67).


Part Two: Punishment


Generalized punishment

In this section, Foucault describes the changing approach toward not only punishment, but of what constituted crime and the (class of) people considered criminal.

The call of eighteenth-century reformers: "Instead of taking revenge, criminal justice should simply punish" (74).  Changes in punishment marked the end of the sovereign's vengeance (74).  "During this period, crimes seemed to lose their violence while punishments lost some of their intensity, but at the cost of greater intervention" (75).


"The shift from a criminality of blood to a criminality of fraud from part of a whole complex mechanism embracing the development of production, the increase of wealth, a higher juridical and moral value placed on property relations, stricter methods of surveillance, a tighter partitioning of the population, more efficient techniques of locating and obtaining information: the shift in illegal practices is correlative with an extension and a refinement of punitive practices" (77).


"What was emerging no doubt was not so much a new respect for the humanity of the condemned – torture was still frequent in the execution of even minor criminals – as a tendency towards a more finely tuned justice, towards a closer penal mapping of the social body.  Following a circular process, the threshold of the passage to violent crimes rises, intolerance to economic offences increases, controls become more thorough, penal interventions at once more premature and more numerous" (78).

 Regulating punishment and punishing "better"


The reformers were attacking the excessive nature of punishments, but "an excess that was bound up with an irregularity even more than with an abuse of the power to punish" (78).  "The criticism of the reformers was directed not so much at the weakness or cruelty of those in authority, as at a bad economy of power" (79).


"The reform of criminal law must be read as a strategy for the rearrangement of the power to punish, according to modalities that render it more regular, more effective, more constant and more detailed in its effects; in short, which increase its effects while diminishing its economic cost (that is to say, by dissociating it from the system of property, of buying and selling, of corruption in obtaining not only offices, but the decisions themselves) and its political cost (by dissociating it from the arbitrariness of monarchical power)" (80-1).


"The power to judge should no longer depend on the innumerable, discontinuous, sometimes contradictory privileges of sovereignty, but on the continuously distributed effects of public power" (81).


" 'Reform,' in the strict sense, as it was formulated in the theories of law or as it was outlined in the various projects, was the political or philosophical resumption of this strategy, with its primary objectives: to make of the punishment and repression of illegalities a regular function, coextensive with society; not to punish less, but to punish better' to punish with an attenuated severity perhaps, but in order to punish with more universality and necessity' to insert the power to punish more deeply into the social body" (82).


"The illegality of property was separated from the illegality of rights.  This distinction represents a class opposition because, on the one hand, the illegality that was to be most accessible to the lower classes was that of property – the violent transfer of ownership – and because, on the other, the bourgeoisie was to reserve to itself the illegality of rights: the possibility of getting round its own regulations and its own laws, of ensuring for itself an immense sector of economic circulation by a skillful manipulation of gaps in the law – gaps that were foreseen by its silences, or opened up by de facto tolerance" (87). 

"And this great redistribution of illegalities was even to be expressed through a specialization of the legal circuits: for illegalities of property – for theft – there were the ordinary courts and punishments; for the illegalities of rights – fraud, tax evasion, irregular commercial operations – special legal institutions applied with transactions, accommodations, reduced fines, etc.  The bourgeoisie reserved to itself the fruitful domain of the illegality of rights.  And at the same time as this split was taking place, there emerged the need for a constant policing concerned essentially with this illegality of property.  It became necessary to get rid of the old economy of the power to punish, based on the principles of the confused and inadequate multiplicity of authorities, the distribution and concentration of the power correlative with actual inertia and inevitable tolerance, punishments that were spectacular in their manifestations and haphazard in their application.  It became necessary to define a strategy and techniques of punishment in which an economy of continuity and permanence would replace that of expenditure and excess.  In short, penal reform was born at the point of junction between the struggle against the super-power of the sovereign and that against the infra[power of acquired and tolerated illegalities.  And if penal reform was anything more than the temporary result of a purely circumstantial encounter, it was because, between this super-power and this infra-power, a whole network of relations was being formed" (87-8).


 "Although the new criminal legislation appears to be characterized by less severe penalties, a clearer codification, a marked diminution of the arbitrary, a more generally accepted consensus concerning the power to punish (in the absence of a more real division in its exercise), it is sustained in reality by an upheaval in the traditional economy of illegalities and a rigorous application of force to maintain their new adjustment.  A penal system must be conceived as a mechanism intended to administer illegalities differentially, not to eliminate them all" (89).


The new theory of punishment

The essential raisons d'etre of penal reform in the eighteenth century:


-- Shift the object and change the scale;


-- Define new tactics in order to reach a target that is now more subtle but also more widely spread in the social body;


-- Find new techniques for adjusting punishment to it and for adapting its effects;


-- Lay down new principles for regularizing, refining, universalizing the art of punishing;

-- Homogenize its application;


-- Reduce its economic and political cost by increasing its effectiveness and by multiplying its circuits;


-- In short, constitute a new economy and a new technology of the power to punish (89)

Punishment took on a social contract model (89-90) where violations of the law violated the contract of the society.  "The right to punish has been shifted from the vengeance of the sovereign to the defence of society" (90).

The major function of punishment is to prevent future crime.  "One must punish exactly enough to prevent repetition" (93).


"In a penality employing public torture and execution, example was the answer to the crime; it had, by a sort of twin manifestation, to show the crime and at the same time to show the sovereign power that mastered it; in a penality calculated according to its own effects, example must refer back to the crime, but in the most discreet way possible and with the greatest possible economy indicate the intervention of power' ideally, too, it should prevent any subsequent reappearance of either" (93-4)


Five or six major rules of punishment:


-- The rule of minimum quantity (to create more interest in avoiding the penalty than committing the crime)


-- The rule of sufficient ideality (the idea of pain needs to be a sufficient deterrent)

-- The rule of lateral effects (punishment that has minimal effects for the criminal and maximum effects on other members of society)


-- The rule of perfect certainty (clearly define and publish offenses and their punishments)

-- The rule of common truth (reason will be applied to determine the truth of any criminal matter)


-- The rule of optimal specification (since punishment must prevent a repetition of the offense, it must take into account the profound nature of the criminal himself and individualize the penalty)


The new political anatomy emerging in the eighteenth century has two intersecting lines of objectification: that which rejects the criminal from the side of a nature against nature; and that which seeks to control delinquency by a calculated economy of punishments that results in the supersession of the punitive semio-technique by a new political of the body (103).


The gentle way in punishment

"The art of punishing must rest on a whole technology of representation" (104).


Characteristics of obstacle-signs:


(1) Must be as unarbitrary as possible, natural, the punishment must proceed from the crime; the law must appear to be the necessity of things, and power must act while concealing itself beneath the gentle force of nature


(2) Reduce the desire that makes the crime attractive; increase the interest that makes the penalty be feared; reverse the relation of intensities so that the representation of the penalty and its disadvantages is more lively than that of the crime and its pleasures


(3) Punishment must be temporary and its duration must be integrated into the economy of the penalty


(4) Punishment must be seen as being in the individual's best interest. There must be no more secret, spectacular, or useless penalties.  "Punishment must be regarded as a retribution that the guilty man makes to each of his fellow citizens for the crime that has wronged them all" (109).  "The convict pays twice: by the labour he provides and by the signs that he produces.  At the heart of socieyt, on the public squares or highways, the convict is a focus of profit and signification.  Visibly, he is serving everyone; but at the same time, he lets slip into the minds of all the crime-punishment sign: a secondary, purely moral, but much more real utility" (109).


(5) "The example is now based on the lesson, the discourse, the decipherable sign, the representation of public morality" (110).  "Each element of its ritual must speak, repeat the crime, recall the law, show the need for punishment and justify its degree. . .The publicity of punishment must not have the physical effect of terror; it must open up a book to be read" (111).

(6) The criminal must not be glorified; the crime must be seen as a misfortune (112).


Each punishment should teach a lesson; each punishment should be a fable (113).


Punishment as imprisonment

"In under twenty years, the principle so clearly formulated in the Constituent Assembly of specific, appropriate, effective penalties, constituting, in each case, a lesson for all, became the law of detention for every offence of any importance, except those requiring the death penalty" (116).


How did models of imprisonment come to be popular given all the reasons against imprisonment?

Walnut Street prison as an example prison:


"Work on the prisoner's soul must be carried out as often as possible.  The prison, though an administrative apparatus, will at the same time be a machine for altering minds" (125).


"The most important thing [in a prison] was that this control and transformation of behaviour were accompanied – both as a condition and as a consequence – by the development of a knowledge of the individuals" (125).  "This ever-growing knowledge of the individuals made it possible to divide them up in the prison not so much according to their crimes as according to the dispositions that they revealed.  The prison became a sort of permanent observatory that made it possible to distribute the varieties of vice or weakness" (126).


Points of convergence between common views of eighteenth-century prison reform and the idea of imprisonment as punishment:


(1) There is a difference in the temporal direction of punishment. 


(2) One punishes to transform a criminal.


(3) The system must be open to individual variables.


Disparities between common views of eighteenth-century prison reform and the idea of imprisonment as punishment:


(1) Techniques of individualizing correction.


(2) Imprisonment relies not on representations, but on a studied manipulation of the individual.

(3) Relation between individual being punished and the individual doing the punishing.

(4) Imprisonment relies on secrecy.


"Punitive city or coercive institution?  On the one hand, a functioning of penal power, distributed throughout the social space; present everywhere as scene, spectacle, sign, discourse; legible like an open book; operating by a permanent recodification of the mind of the citizens; eliminating crime by those obstacles placed before the idea of crime; acting invisibly and uselessly on the 'soft fibres of the brain,' as Servan put it.  A power to punish that ran the whole length of the social network would act at each of its points, and in the end would no longer be perceived as a power of certain individuals over others, but as an immediate reaction of all in relation to the individual.  On the other hand, a compact functioning of the power to punish: a meticulous assumption of responsibility for the body and the time of the convict, a regulation of his movements and behaviour by a system of authority and knowledge; a concerted orthopaedy applied to convicts in order to reclaim them individually; an autonomous administration of this power that is isolated both from the social body and from the judicial power in the strict sense.  The emergence of the prison marks the institutionalization of the power to punish, or, to be more precise: will the power to punish be better served by concealing itself beneath a general social function, in the 'punitive city,' or by investing itself in a coercive institution, in the enclosed space of the 'reformatory'?" (129-30).


Part Three: Discipline

Docile bodies


"In the course of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the disciplines became general formulas of domination" (137):


-- Working the body at the level of movements, gestures, attitudes: an infinitesimal power over the active body


-- Object was the efficiency of movements, their internal organization


-- Uninterrupted, constant coercion, supervising the processes of the activity rather than its result; exercised according to a codification that partitions time, space, movement as closely as possible.


"Discipline produces subjected and practiced bodies, 'docile' bodies.  Discipline increases the forces of the body (in economic terms of utility) and diminishes these same forces (in political terms of obedience).  In short, it dissociates power from the body; on the one hand, it turns it into an 'aptitude,' a 'capacity,' which it seeks to increase; on the other hand, it reverses the course of the energy, the power that might result from it, and turns it into a relation of strict subjection.  If economic exploitation separates the force and the product of labour, let us say that disciplinary coercion establishes in the body the constricting link between an increased aptitude and an increased domination" (138).


"Small acts of cunning endowed with a great power of diffusion, subtle arrangements, apparently innocent, but profoundly suspicious, mechanisms that obeyed economies too shameful to be acknowledged, or pursued petty forms of coercion – it was nevertheless they that brought about the mutation of the punitive system" (139).


"No detail is unimportant, but not so much for the meaning that it conceals within it as for the hold it provides for the power that wishes to seize it" (140).

"A meticulous observation of detail, and at the same time a political awareness of these small things, for the control and use of men, emerge through the classical age bearing with them a whole set of techniques, a whole corpus of methods and knowledge, descriptions, plans, and data.  And from such trifles, no doubt, the man of modern humanism was born" (141).

The art of distributions

"Discipline proceeds from the distribution of individuals in space," which employs the following techniques:


(1) Enclosure – a place heterogeneous to all others and closed in upon itself, e.g., the monastery, army barracks, factories


(2) Partitioning – each individual has his own place and each place its individual, e.g., the monastic cell


(3) Functional sites – space that allowed supervision, disabled communication between individuals, and was useful


(4) Rank – the place one occupies in a classification.  One's distribution and circulation in relation to others.


The table: in the form of disciplinary distribution, it distributes multiplicity and derives as many effects from it as possible.  Disciplinary tactics are situated on the axis that links the singular and the multiple.  It allows the characterization of the individual as individual and the ordering of a given multiplicity (149).


The control of activity

(1) The time-table (a general framework for activity, increasing partitioning of time, attempt to insure the quality of time [eliminate distractions and disturbances], how to constitute a totally useful time?)


(2) Temporal elaboration of the act (a collective and obligatory rhythm, assures the elaboration of the act itself, controls its development and its stages from the inside.  "The act is broken down into its elements; the position of the body, limbs, articulations is defined; to each movement are assigned a direction, an aptitude, a duration; their order of succession is prescribed" [152])


(3) Correlation of the body and the gesture (imposes the best relation between a gesture and the overall position of the body, which is its condition of efficiency and speech)


(4) Body-object articulation (defines each of the relations that the body must have with the object that it manipulates)


(5) Exhaustive use (the question of extracting from time more available moments and more useful forces)


The organization of geneses

How can one organize profitable durations?  The disciplines, which analyse space, break up and rearrange activities, must also be understood as machinery for adding up and capitalizing time:


(1) Divide duration into successive or parallel segments, each of which must end at a specific time


(2) Organize threads according to an analytical plan – successions of elements as simple as possible, combining according to increasing complexity


(3) Finalize these temporal segments, decide on how long each will last and conclude it with an exam, which will have the triple function of showing whether the subject has reached the level required, of guaranteeing that each subject undergoes the same apprenticeship and of differentiating the abilities of each individual.


(4) Draw up series of series; lay down for each individual, according to his rank, etc., the exercises that are suited to him.


This is an exercise: the technique by which one imposes on the body tasks that are both repetitive and different, but always graduated.  By bending behaviour towards a terminal state, exercise makes possible a perpetual characterization of the individual either in relation to this term, in relation to other individuals, or in relation to a type of itinerary.  It thus assures, in the form of continuity and constraint, a growth, an observation, a qualification.


"Exercise, having become an element in the political technology of the body and of duration, does not culminate in a beyond, but tends towards a subjection that has never reached its limit" (162).


The composition of forces

How to compose a force greater than the sum of its parts?  This demand is expressed in the following ways:


(1) The body is constituted as a part of a multisegmentary machine.


(2) The chronological series that discipline must combine to form a composite time are also pieces of machinery.


(3) The combination of forces requires a precise system of command.  Forces must react to signals as triggers.


"Discipline creates out of the bodies it controls . . .an individuality endowed with four characteristics: it is cellular (by the play of spatial distribution), organic (by the coding of activities), genetic (by the accumulation of time), combinatory (by the composition of forces).  And in doing so, it operates four great techniques: it draws up tables: it prescribes movements; it imposes exercises; lastly, in order to obtain the combination of forces, it arranges 'tactics'" (167).

Part III, ch 2


Foucault begins his discussion of the "coercion of bodies" (169) by informing us that "[T]he chief function of the disciplinary power is to 'train."  "Instead of bending all its subjects into a single uniform mass, it separates, analyzes, differentiates, carries its procedures of decomposition to the point of necessary and sufficient single units…Discipline 'makes' individuals; it is the specific technique of a power that regards individuals both as objects and as instruments of its exercise."  This is the beginning of the invasion of the "great forms" and mechanisms of the sovereign or state by disciplinary power in the form of "humble modalities"   Foucault considers three "simple instruments" of  disciplinary power:


"hierarchical observation" (pp. 170-177)


"normalizing judgement and"  (pp. 177-184)


"the examination"  (pp. 184-192)


Hierarchical Observation

"The exercise of discipline presupposes a mechanism that coerces by means of observation" (170).  "[T]he means of coercion make those on whom they are applied clearly visible," and improvements on technology increased the potential for observation (171).  Foucault gives a description of a military camp as both an example of "a power that acts by means of general visibility" and as a model of principles "found in urban development, in the construction of working-class housing estates, hospitals, asylums, prisons, schools: the spatial 'nesting' of hierarchized surveillance (171-72).


Structures of this sort, including hospitals, were designed with at least as great a concern for controlling the people and spaces it contained as for external considerations (172).  The Ecole Militaire, for instance, was designed to allow for observation of students in their quarters, during meals, and in the latrine.  A more "continuous power" is achieved through the establishment of "a perfect eye that nothing would escape and a centre towards which all gazes would be turned," as was attempted in the Arc-et-Senans (173) with its circular structure.  Pyramid structures were found to be even more effective for their ability to allow for "relays" and to 1:  "form an uninterrupted network" with "the possibility of multiplying its levels;"  2:  "be discreet enough" to keep from preventing the operations of the structure (174).  As is the case in the industrial factory, where, according to the reasoning of the powerful, any "dishonesty" is apt to be multiplied and could "prove fatal" (175).  Thus the guild-style system of management by masters was replaced by management by company "agents."  "Surveillance thus becomes a decisive economic operator both as an internal part of the production machinery and as a specific mechanism in the disciplinary power" (175).  Foucault continues on to elementary teaching where "the details of surveillance were specified and it was integrated into the teaching relationship (175) through careful monitoring, and, later, in the case of Demia, the use of teaching assistants.  Demia's model is presented as "an institution of the 'mutual type'" in which Teaching proper, the acquisition of knowledge," and "observation" (176).


Foucault comments here on the ability of power to operate as  "an 'integrated' system (176) which allows for both hierarchical and lateral practices of power that systemic and individual:   "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…the hold over the body…is a power that seems all the less 'corporal' in that it is more subtly 'physical'" (177).


Normalizing Judgement (sic)


1.  Here Foucault presents us with the role of judgment in juvenile settings, such as "the orphanage of the Chevalier Paulet," where students held morning tribunals to mete out punishments to their peers, at which point he observes:  "At the heart of all disciplinary systems functions a small penal mechanism" (177).  "The workshop, the school, the army were subject to a whole micro-penality of time...of activity…of behavior…of speech…of the body…of sexuality" (ellipses mark parenthetical examples by Foucault) resulting in a state in which one was always punishing and punishable.


2.  Foucault warns us here that the punishment of discipline was not just that of a "small-scale model of the court" (178).  Judgment was passed on those, student or soldier, who did not achieve or perform to the dictated level.  These observable deficiencies resulted in both punishment and public relegation, in the case of the student, to "the bench of the 'ignorant.'  In a disciplinary regime punishment involves a double juridico-natural reference" (179).


3.  Here Foucault argues that "Disciplinary punishment," ostensibly, "has the function of reducing gaps."  It must therefore be essentially corrective" (179):  The demoted corporal must regain his rank, the failing student, work and rework a lesson.  "Disciplinary punishment is, in the main, isomorphic with obligation itself," as, "To punish is to exercise" (180).


4.  Punishment here is seen as "only one element of a double system (of) gratification-punishment" which "operates in the process of training and correction" through the careful definition and bestowal of rewards (180).  Foucault uses a typically illustrative example of students living in a "micro-economy of privileges and impositions in the Christian Schools, where a "transposition of the system of indulgences" (basically, you could get out of catechism exercises by building up points) allowed for the continuous ranking of students  between poles of good and bad.  Here judgment was passed on more than an act.  This "knowledge of individuals" judged/ranked the potential and value of the child. 


5.  Here Foucault exposes ranking and grading as means of punishment and reward through the example of the "Ecole Militaire's four (and sometimes five) levels of achievement assessed by "officers, teachers, and their assistants," based on "'the moral qualities of the pupils' and on 'their universally recognized behavior," and visually registered through the use of various colors of epaulettes (and maybe sackcloth) (181-182).  The reasoning was, apparently, that the lowest, most shamed, ranks "existed only to disappear" (182), that is, to work their way up the epaulette-al hierarchy.  This served the purpose of both classifying and encouraging conformity, according to Foucault.  As he puts it:  "the art of punishing, in the regime of disciplinary power, is aimed neither at expiation, nor even precisely at repression," but at the following:


  1.  "It refers individual actions to a whole that is at once a field of comparison, a space of differentiation and the principle of a rule to be followed"

  2.  "It differentiates individuals from one another'


  3.  "It measures in quantitative terms and hierarchizes in terms of value the abilities, the level, the 'nature' of individuals"


  4.  "It introduces…the constraint of a conformity that must be achieved."


  5.  It defines the "abnormal"        (182-183)


"In short, it normalizes" (183).  Here Foucault contrasts the disciplinary to the "judicial penality," which referenced laws and binaries of moralities not observed individuals and rankings.  It is the "penality of the norm" that brought about modern penality, not advent of human sciences, etc (183).  "The Normal" is perpetuated through institutions and manages to both homogenize (through conformity)and individualize (through ranks and assessments).  Through measurement , "the norm introduces…all the shading of individual differences" in a homogenized setting (184).


The Examination


"The examination," according to Foucault, "combines the techniques of an observing hierarchy and those of a normalizing judgment" (184).  After briefly lamenting the lack of pre-Foucault scholarship on this concept, the author offers the examples of the hospital (pp. 185-186), with its secularization and transformation into a place for observation, and the school (pp. 186-187), with its transformation into the pedagogical science of evaluating and ranking.


Foucault then presents three linkages that examinations created between "a certain type of the formation of knowledge" and "a certain from of the exercise of power" (187):


1.  "The examination transformed the economy of visibility into the exercise of power" (pp. 187-189)


Here, through the example of Louis XIV's "first military review," Foucault reminds us of the shift in visibility from the punisher to the punished and explains that the examination is the "mechanism of objectification" in which "disciplinary power manifests its potency, essentially, by arranging objects."


2.  "The examination also introduces individuality into the field of documentation" (pp. 189-191)


"The examination leaves behind it a whole meticulous archive," through the act of "power writing."  The transcription and fixing of norms allowed also for the continuous analysis of the individual and the application of a "comparative system" in which to place said individual.


3.  "The examination, surrounded by all its documentary techniques, makes each individual a 'case'" (pp. 191-192).


Disciplinary power "lowered the threshold of describable individuality and made of this description a means of control and method of domination" whereby the case is no longer "a set of circumstances" but a documented individual.

Disciplines, then, "mark the moment when the reversal of the political axis of individualization…takes place" (192).  Whereas in the "feudal regime" the practice and display of power made the powerful individual visible, in the "disciplinary regime…individualization is 'descending:' as power becomes more anonymous and more functional, those on whom it is exercised tend to be more strongly individualized" (193).  Here Foucault makes the productive power of discipline explicit:  "We must cease once and for all to describe the effects of power in negative terms…[P]ower produces; it produces reality; it produces domains of objects and rituals of truth," in short, the "individual" (194).

How, then, he asks, could "such power (be derived) from the petty machinations of discipline" (194)?  The answer:


Part III, ch 3:  Panopticism


Foucault's discussion of the Panopticon proper is preceded by the legacies of the plague and the leper (195-200).  Plague control at the end of the 17th century prescribed the creation inspectors and the transformation of the home into an "enclosed, segmented space, observed at every point," in which individuals were the objects of writing, observation, and power.  Thus, the plague, symbol of "all forms of confusion and disorder," was "met by order" and analytic power; those acts and individuals that fell outside of this discipline were "contagions."  Foucault contrasts the system of order established by the plague to the exclusionary, binary principals that defined the leper and the "clean" (my term).  "All the mechanisms of power" that the modern individual is subjected to "are composed of those two forms from which they distantly derive."


Bentham's Panopticon is the physical manifestation of these forms.  In it (visuals are widely available on the Web), the prisoner, who occupies the periphery of the circular structure, is visible to the guards, and invisible to the other prisoners.  Foucault contrasts this to the dungeon, which served "to enclose, to deprive of light and to hide" (200).  The exposed inmate is "is the object of information, never a subject in communication" as one might be in a dungeon (200).  In all settings, panopticism replaces crowds, and their "collective effect[s]" with "collection[s] of separated individualities" (201).  "Hence the major effect of the Panopticon:  to induce in the inmate a state of conscious and permanent visibility that assures the automatic functioning of power" so that the effects are continuous and internalized, and the practice of surveillance always a possibility (see p. 201 for more description and discussion).  This "machine for dissociating the see/being seen dyad" can be operated by anyone, increasing the likelihood of, and anxiety regarding, observation (202).  The "houses of security" were to be replaced by this "house of certainty" (202).  The Panopticon was "also a laboratory" (203), "a privileged place from experiments on men, and for analyzing with complete certainty the transformations that may be obtained from them" (204).


Where the "plague-stricken town" was simple model of mechanical control or exclusion, the Panopticon "must be understood as a generalizable model of functioning; a way of defining power relations in terms of the everyday life of men" applicable to "hospitals, workshops, schools, and prisons" (205).   It is numerically efficient, continuously able to intervene yet never needing to, and "acts directly on individuals" (206) regardless of scale.  Lest we get too caught up in his machine metaphor, Foucault warns us that the exercise of power takes place within the machine; power the Panopticon "is a way of making power relations function in a function, and of making a function through these power relations (206-207).  This interior/exterior distinction gets a bit fuzzy when he goes on to discuss the Panopticon as open to the outsiders who would take part in observation:  "it has become a transparent building in which the exercise of power may be supervised by society as a whole" (207).  This seeming democratization of power is key to its being applied in the name of "progress" (208).


This transformation from the "discipline-blockade" to the "discipline mechanism" was born in the rise of disciplinary thought in the 17th-18th centuries and concrete applications became models for entire disciplines.  The spread of "disciplinary institutions" is likened to other "more profound processes," of which this spread is an aspect:


1.  "The functional inversion of the disciplines."  (pp. 210-211)


Whereas the roles of institutions were once defined in negative terms (neutralize, fix, avoid), "disciplines function increasingly as techniques for making useful individuals." This utility led to their being associated with the "most important, most central and most productive sectors of society (education, training, war-making).


2.  "The swarming of disciplinary mechanisms."  (pp. 211-212)


The methodologies of schools, hospitals, and other institutions came to be applied by these institutions on the communities and individuals around them.  These institutions also became "centers of observations" for the societies around them, subverting the traditional power of the church.

3.  "The state control of the disciplinary mechanisms."  (pp. 213-217)


Here we are warned that the secularization of power and its shift from monarchic control, as with the police in Foucault's example, is not a complete shift of disciplinary functions to the "state apparatus," as "'Discipline' may be identified neither with an institution nor with an apparatus; it is a type of power, a modality for its exercise" (215):  "one can speak of the formation of a disciplinary society…[n]ot because the disciplinary modality of power has replaced all the others; but because it has infiltrated the others" (216).  Foucault sums-up the shift from the spectacle to the surveilled that is made concrete in Bentham's Panopticon in a lyrical discussion on pp. 216-217, where we are reminded that this has been a shift from persons being "repressed" to individuals "fabricated" into a "social order."  


On pages 218-228, Foucault locates "[t]he formulation of disciplinary society" in the context of a "a number of broad historical processes" (roughly three): 


1.  Economic processes (pp. 218-221)


Disciplines "try to define in relation to the (human) multiplicities a tactics of power that fulfills three criteria:" lowest cost, maximized social power, and linkage to "the output of the apparatuses … within which it is exercised; in short to increase both the docility and the utility of all the elements of the system" (218).  In the 18th century, this shift was concurrent with mobile populations and increased production capacities.  While the old "economy of power" was wont to use violence to achieve control, discipline attempted to "adjust" people and apparatuses in order to "counter the advantages of number" through regimentation (219-220).  This brings us to something of a definition:  "discipline is the unitary technique by which the body is reduced as a 'political' force at the least cost and maximized as a useful force."  Not surprisingly, Foucault ties the rise of "a capitalist economy" to the proliferation of panoptic (?) power (221).


2.  "Juridico-political" processes (pp.221-224)


Panopticism is neither an "extension" of, or independent of "juridico-political" power (221-222).   Panopticism works it coercive force on the formal systems, even as the rise of the middle class attempted to create a codified legal framework (222).  Discipline acts as a "counter-law" and, through the "minute disciplines, the panopticisms of every day" works it subtle magic against the more obvious mechanisms of the juridico-political  (223).  This why the "smallest techniques of discipline" (those most associated with the body?) are experienced or perceived as most "foundational" (223).  The prison's power to punish has become the power to observe, selectively prosecute, and train, not through the "universal consciousness of the law in each juridical subject" but through "the infinitely minute web of panoptic techniques" (224).


3.  Scientific processes (224-228)


By the 18th century, these techniques achieved "a level at which the formation of knowledge and the increase of power regularly reinforce one another in a circular process."  Within institutions, the growth of power could give rise to new knowledge or methodologies  for control.  Foucault refers to this as a "double process…an epistemological thaw" (224).  Foucault goes on to draw a parallel between disciplinary examination and judicial inquisition or investigation, noting the relationship between inquisition and the rise of empirical methods (225-226).   While investigation in the empirical sciences have managed to "become detached from its politico-juridical model," the examination has not ( 227).  Penal justice today is both inquisitorial and disciplinary.  Where the justice of the (spectacular) Ancien Regime was at its "extreme"  in the "infinite segmentation of the body of the regicide…The ideal point of penality today would be an indefinite discipline; an interrogation without end…a procedure that would be…the permanent measure of a gap in relation to an inaccessible norm and the asymptotic movement that strives to meet in infinity (227).  The final sentence of Part III (p228) reads:  "Is it surprising that prisons resemble factories, schools, barracks, hospitals, which all resemble prisons?"

Part IV, ch 1.  Complete and austere institutions


The turn of the 18th and 19th centuries saw the rise of detention as "the penalty par excellence" (231).   However, the "birth of the prison" was marked by conjunction of a "justice that is supposed to be 'equal'" and "a legal machinery that is supposed to be 'autonomous,' but which contains all the asymmetries of disciplinary subjection" (231-232).  Foucault laments that the concept of the prison has since become so naturalized that alternatives seem unthinkable.  It even seems to be an egalitarian punishment in that time is assessed as opposed to fine in reparation for an offense against society.  Foucault intends to further investigate the "transformative role" of the prison, and he cautions us to remember that the prison has been, from its beginnings in the 19th century, a means of both "deprivation of liberty and the technical transformation of individuals" (233), and he cites numerous sources to support the importance of the latter.  He also argues that prison "reform" has been around for as long as prisons have, and that said reforms are a part of the penal process, not an interruption of it (234-235), and that "in becoming a legal punishment, (the prison) weighted the old juridico-political question of the right to punish with all the problems, all the agitations that have surrounded the corrective technologies of the individual" (235).


Foucault draws the chapter title, "complete and austere institutions," from an "L. Baltard" (pub. 1829; see "Bibliography") in order to portray the exhaustive, uninterrupted, and "despotic" disciplinary power of the prison (235-236), which was to be applied to the re-education and "recoding of existence" of the prisoner.  This is contrasted with simple detainment and "the simple mechanism of exempla imagined by the reformers at the time of the idealogues" (236).  He lays out the principles of the disciplinary prison as follows:


1.  Isolation:  He finds three primary reasons or functions for isolation:  to prevent collaboration and recidivism, to promote reformatory practice, and to create a situation in which the words and power of the imprisoning and reforming power will take on even greater authority due to the relative silence of all others' (236-237).  He then contrasts the Auburn and Pennsylvania models for prisons, which posited limited interaction with other prisoners while working (reproducing exterior labor conditions) and utter solitude, respectively (237-239).


2.  Work:  Through numerous citations, Foucault pursues the question of the role of work in the prisons. Long-running debates in France pitted those who considered prison labor to be a magnet for the indigent and competition for the "free" laborer against a penal system that argued that prison labor offered little to no competition and that prisoners work and wages were their incentive for reform.  Foucault takes a third position: that prison labor was about "the constitution of a power relation" (pp. 239-243).


3.  "The Declaration of Carceral Independence" (247):  Prison "[became] increasingly an instrument for the modulation of the penalty; and apparatus which, through the execution of the sentence with which it is entrusted, seems to have the right, in part at least, to assume its principle" (244).  In assuming the responsibility for the means and extent of punishment and reform, the prison claims "the right to be a power that not only possesses administrative autonomy, but is also a part of punitive sovereignty" (247).


The above techniques, to the extent that they exceed the state of detention, then, are to be know as the "penitentiary" (248).  The penitentiary, Foucault argues, became a trap not only for prisoners, but for "penal justice" and judges, "because it was able to introduce criminal justice into relations of knowledge that have since become its infinite labyrinth (249).  The prisons observed not just for immediate control, but also to create a body of knowledge regarding the individual and his response to reformation in order "to exact unceasingly form the inmate a body of knowledge that will make it possible to transform the penal measure into penitentiary operations" (251).    As the "offender becomes an individual to know," a new character is created:  that of the "delinquent," who is characterized less by his act" (offense) than by his life (251).   For the re-education of the prisoner to be complete, the "penitentiary operation… must become the sum total existence of the delinquent, making of the prison a sort of artificial and coercive theatre in which his life will be examined from top to bottom" (251-252).  This "biographical" approach to understanding the delinquent "establishes the 'criminal' as existing before the crime and even outside it."  This psycho-social concept of the "dangerous individual" is, according to Foucault, still with us today (252), and came to be categorized and documented, ultimately a "biographical unity, a kernel of danger, representing a type of anomaly" (254).  The dangerous individual, or delinquent, is an amalgamation of 18th century prison objects:  the extra-societal "monster" and the "juridical subject rehabilitated by punishment" (255).


Part IV, ch 2.  Illegalities and delinquency


Here Foucault begins with a discussion of the change from "chain-gang" to "police carriage" as "a symptom and a symbol" of the transition (or "mutation") from the public display of power to the penality of prison (257).  The chain gang of the turn of the century was a manifestation of both detention and public torture (255).  Foucault paints a vivid picture of the dangerous, public applications of the chains and processions in which crowds participated in the spectacle as if in a festival or carnival, taunting and/or studying the condemned in what Foucault describes as part game, part "ethnology of crime" (259), in that the prisoner was the subject of speculation as much as spectacle.  The chain-gang of early 19th century France, like the scaffold, was as dangerous as it was public however, and the crowd, as well as the prisoner, were able to apply meanings to the sentence and presence of the condemned that were not those intended or sanctioned by the judges (259-263).  This means of transportation was replaced, in 1837, with "a mobile equivalent of the panopticon," a cart in which detainees of all varieties were sequestered into cells, observable by a center corridor by hidden from the view of the public, and prevented from interaction with one another, under constant surveillance and punishment by warders, and restricted to self-corrective thoughts and readings (263-264).


The years 1820-1845 also saw a critique of the prison, according to Foucault, who cautions us against seeking to "pat" a timeline.  He discusses five major critiques, which, we are told, are "today repeated almost unchanged" (265; as with previous discussions, Foucault cites 19th century sources throughout):


1.  "Detention causes recidivism" (pp. 265-266):  Foucault cites numerous arguments and figures regarding recidivism rates in support of his observation that prisons were producing delinquents, not "corrected individuals."

2. Prisons produce delinquents "by the very conditions (they) impose upon (their) inmates" (266-267):  "Useless work," "violent constraints," and various abuses of power are cited.


3.  Prisons bring together delinquents who then collaborate with one another (267):  Among his more memorable citations are references to prisons as settings for "anti-social clubs" and "barracks of crime."


4.  Ex-convict status and the markings and surveillance that come with it promotes recidivism 267-268).


5.  "[T]he prison indirectly produces delinquents by throwing the inmate's family into destitution" (268).


The above critiques, addressed by claiming either a "rudimentary" state of corrective measures or that corrective measures detract from the ability to punish, were/are always rectified by the continued application of "penitentiary technique:  "For a century and a half the prison had always been offered as its own remedy" (268). In an explicit reference to current (early nineteen-seventies) conditions, he argues that there has been a continuous appeal to the "seven universal maxims of the good 'penitential condition'" (for above, see 268-269; for items 1-7, pp. 269-270):


1.  "Penal detention must have as its essential function the transformation of the individual's behavior."


2.  "Convicts must be isolated or at least distributed according to the penal gravity of their act, but above all according to age, mental attitude, the technique of correction to be used, the stages of their transformation."


3.  "It must be possible to alter the penalties according to the individuality of the convicts, the results that have been obtained, progress or relapses.

4. "Work must be one of the essential elements in the transformation and progressive socialization of convicts."


5.  "The education of the prisoner is for the authorities both an indispensable precaution in the interests of society and an obligation to the prisoner."

6.  "The Prison regime must, at least in part, be supervised and administered by a specialized staff possessing the moral qualities and technical abilities required of educators."


7.  "Imprisonment must be followed by measures of supervision and assistance until the rehabilitation of the former prisoner is complete."


These continuously resurfacing  "propositions," serve uphold Foucault's assertion that there is not a three-stage history of the prison, its failure, and reform, but a "simultaneous system," a "fourfold system" made up of:  the "super-power (of)…penitentiary 'rationality;"  "auxiliary knowledge" (or reproduction) of criminality; "inverted efficiency; reform as "isomorphic…with the disciplinary functioning of the prison – the element of utopian duplication" (271).  This "supposed failure" is, then, one of the "effects of power…which may be grouped together under the name of 'carceral system'" (271). 


 


Having established "the failure(s) of the prison" (272), Foucault moves on to argue that they, and the effects (particularly of marking or establishing the delinquent) have not been abandoned because "the prison, and no doubt punishment in general, is not intended to eliminate offences, but rather to distinguish them, to distribute them, to use them;…they tend to assimilate the transgression of the laws in a general tactics of subjection," creating an "economy" of "illegalities" (272). 


 


In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, "popular illegalities began to develop according to new dimensions…introduced by movements which…linked together social conflicts, the struggles against the political regimes, the resistance to the movement of industrialization, the effects of economic rises.  The "development of the political dimension of the popular illegalities" were based in local actions (273-274), the "rejection of the law or other regulation" as struggle against those who enacted them (274), and the increases in regulatory functions of those wielding political or economic authority leading to an increase in "the occasions of offences" by those who would otherwise have been within the law (273-275).  This increased politicization is tied by Foucault t to the changing role of the 'working-class" in 19th century France and he cites numerous sources in support of the "class dissymmetry" affecting the application of "law and justice" (276).  Delinquency, as a form of illegality, again becomes a means by which to categorize, etc, on behalf of the "carceral system" (277).  Foucault sums up:  "We have seen how the carceral system substituted  the 'delinquent' for the offender, and also superimposed upon juridical practice a whole horizon of possible knowledge" all of which "enables them to reinforce one another perpetually, to objectify the delinquency behind the offence, to solidify delinquency in the movement of illegalities" (277).


Why and how, then, he asks, does penality invest certain practices "in a mechanism of 'punishment-reproduction?"  His first assertion is that by defining and controlling a criminal element, a more supervisable, manipulable group diffuses the possibility for more disruptive (political) illegalities (278-279). His second is that it is used as form of "colonialism," even domestically; for instance as a mechanism for reaping the profits of prostitution and other illegalities (279-280).    His third, the political use of delinquents as "thugs" or a "clandestine police force" in labor struggles in particular, all of which is made possible by surveillance and documentation in collaboration with the prison and judges (280-282).  On pages 282-285 explores the biographies of Vidocq, cop and criminal who ended the "Shakespearian age when sovereignty confronted abomination in a single character" (283) and Francois Lacenaire, fallen bourgeois criminal and cause celèbre.


Foucault describes the "production of delinquency" as a continuously shifting process, as opposed to a "result," in which the delinquents are separated from and made to be demonized by the rest of the lower class populations, particularly in relation to labor struggles.  All of which is described as "a whole tactic of confusion aimed at maintaining a permanent state of conflict" (285-286).   This was supplemented by a "patient attempt" to portray the criminal as ever-present and "everywhere to be feared" in the newspapers and novels of the time.  By the end of the nineteenth century, the worker's newspapers were actively campaigning "against penal labor" (286-287).  This position is modified a bit to recognize that workers newspapers didn't solely vilify the criminal, but blamed societal conditions for forcing the criminal into desperate measures.  Foucault argues that even these observations fell short of recognizing "delinquency from above...the source of misery and the principle of revolt for the poor" (287).   It is, apparently, the increase in workers as political prisoners that leads the "reappraisal of penal justice" and the tactic of the "counter-fait divers," which portrayed the decadent bourgeoisie as the ever-present criminal (288).


Foucault cites the Fourierists as "the first to elaborate a political theory which...places a positive value on crime."  He argues that they recognized "not a criminal nature, but a play of forces which, according to the class to which individuals belong, will lead them to power or to prison (289).  This, then was a recognition of penality as political tool and of the "play of opposing forces" in which the prol's were caught (289-290).


He moves then to a third figure, a thirteen year old featured by La Phalange who "opposed to the discourse of the law that made him delinquent... the discourse of an illegality that remained resistant to these coercions and which revealed indiscipline in a systematically ambiguous manner as the disordered order of society and as the affirmation of inalienable rights" (290).  Through the boy's dialogue with his sentencing judge the paper, and Foucault, discussed the "violent split between the accused and society," between the society and system that renders "the worker a slave."  This discourse, which Foucault notes may not be representative of the discourse of the workers newspapers, as the precursor of the recognition of "the political problem of delinquency" and "the most militant rejection of the law" and the awareness of the  bourgeois system of "legality and illegality" (292).


Part IV, ch 3.  The carceral


Foucault chooses January 22, 1840, "the date of the official opening of Mettray," as the "date of completion of the carceral system" (293).  Mettray, a prison for the underage, he explains, "is the disciplinary form at its most extreme, the model in which are concentrated all the coercive technologies of behavior:" the family, the army, the workshop, the school, and the judicial model" (293-294).   Here, "the entire parapenal institution, which is created in order not to be a prison, culminates in the cell, on the walls of which are written in black letters: 'God sees you" (294).  The "chiefs and their deputies at Mettray...were in a sense technicians of behavior: engineers of conduct, orthopaedists of individuality" who produced controllable bodies through their training (294-295).  Foucault explicitly argues that Mettray produced inmates who would then become the technicians of control in "the first training college pure discipline" (295). 


At this time power-knowledge, upheld by psychiatry and the "judicial apparatus," "(normalized) the power of normalization," and made warders out of prisoners (296).  It was "the most famous of a whole series of institutions which, well beyond the frontiers of criminal law, constituted what one might call the carceral archipelago" (297).


This time, minors were ostensibly being protected from the prison, then, is the moment when, according to Foucault, penality escapes transcends the boundaries of the prison proper:  "The frontiers between confinement, judicial punishment and institutions of discipline, where were already blurred in the classical age, tended to disappear and to constitute a great carceral continuum that diffused penitentiary techniques into the most innocent disciplines" (297).  The carceral system came to include a wide variety of institutions that were ostensibly charitable or intended for the shelter and protection of the poor and the young, eventually, reaching "all the disciplinary mechanisms that function throughout society" (297-298).


Foucault summarizes:  "We have seen that, in penal justice, the prison transformed the punitive procedure into a penitentiary technique; the carceral archipelago transported this technique from the penal institution to the entire social body" (298).  He then argues that there have been six key results:


1.  Individuals "crimes," "sins," and "conduct" were no longer judged by "separate criteria" and in relation to "separate criteria."  Irregular behavior "was no longer the offence, the attack on the common interest, it was the departure from the norm, the anomaly...the social enemy was transformed into a deviant," whose deviance was deemed infectious.  "The carceral network linked...the two long, multiple series of the punitive and the abnormal" (pp. 298-300)


2.  The carceral "allows the recruitment of major 'delinquents" and "organizes...'disciplinary careers."  Penality and discipline in the 19th century produced both docility and delinquency.  In panoptic society, there are no "outlaws," only those held and controlled by the law and its mechanisms.  "The carceral archipelago assures...the formation of delinquency on the basis of subtle illegalities, the overlapping of the latter by the former and the establishment of a specified criminality" (pp. 300-301).


3.  The carceral system "succeeds in making the power to punish natural and legitimate, in lowering at least the threshold of tolerance to penality."  It plays "the legal register of justice and the extra-legal register of discipline...against one another," masking the true violence of penality.  Society and the prison now differ only in degree, and societal discipline (and the self policing it entails) is accepted as proper, even when applied to the mildest transgressions (pp. 301-303).


4.   The "carceral network" has a great normative function, and "the judges of normality are present everywhere" (p. 304)


5.  The "real capture of the body and its perpetual observation" have created the "knowable man," "the object-effect of ... domination-observation."  Foucault implies a relationship between the rise of the human sciences and the penal process of power-knowledge  (pp. 304-305).


6.  The prison is deeply rooted in "mechanisms and strategies of power."  However, the prison is neither indispensable or unalterable.  Foucault names two processes "capable of exercising considerable restraint" and transformation on the prison:  1) processes which "(reduce) the utility...of a delinquency accommodated as a specific illegality, as when the "levy on sexual pleasure is carried out more efficiently" through the market than through "the archaic hierarchy of prostitution; 2) The spread of and growth of "mechanisms of normalization" beyond the prison, which, Foucault argues, will soon make "the specificity of the prison" unnecessary.      (pp. 305-306)


Foucault closes with another passage from La Phalange, in relation to which he makes the book's final points about the carceral city:


1. "that at the center of this city...is  a multiple network of diverse elements;"

2. "that the model of the carceral city is... a strategic distribution of elements of different natures and levels"


3. "that it is the court that is external and subordinate to the prison" (and not vice versa)

4. that it is "linked to a whole series of 'carceral' mechanisms"


5. that the above mechanisms are applied to transgression of production not of a "'central' law"


6. "That ultimately what presides over all these mechanisms is not the unitary functioning of an apparatus or an institution, but the necessity of combat and the rules of strategy." (pp. 307-308)


Foucault asks that we "hear the distant roar of battle" and begin our own "studies of the power of normalization and the formation of knowledge in modern society" for which he has provided a background (308).


Outline prepared by Gretchen Haas and Brian Okstad


December 15, 2003