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Michel Foucault (1926-1984)

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Erika McCormick

on 4 November 2013

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Transcript of Michel Foucault (1926-1984)

Michel Foucault (1926-1984)
Epistemes (Systems of Thought)
Genealogical Period (1970-84)
Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason (1961)
Pre-Modern Episteme
(Middle Ages -Early Renaissance)
"The Wisdom of Fools"
A spiritually inspired fall from grace

Classical Episteme
(Classical age: 1650-1800)
Descent into animality.
Swallowed up into darkness
"The Great Confinement of the 17th Century"

Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason (1961)
Modern Episteme
(End of 18th Century)
The Medicalization of Madness!
No longer animals or criminals! Now medical patients to be locked up in asylums

Jeremy Bentham's
Historical Transformation of Disciplinary Powers
the body the mind

Disciplinary Mechanisms of Power

Permanent Unverifiable Visibility!

The inmate’s exact moments of observation are unverifiable, yet he must be assured that he is ALWAYS being observed
The Panoptic Programme: A Perfect Embodiment of Cellular Disciplinary Powers
The programme of the Panopticon is concerned with:
Argument #1

The mechanisms of discipline operating in the Panopticon are no longer relevant in online communities of social networking.
Argument #3

The adaption of the panoptic model is limited in contemporary society since it does not consider our human agency
Power and Knowledge Are Inseparable!!!
Systems of knowledge are determined by those in power

The human sciences (psychiatry, criminology, medicine) are used to maintain social order by........

History of Sexuality (Volumes I,II,III 1976-1984)
the power-knowledge complex is also present in regards to our beliefs about sex

creation of a “sexual science”
Ways in which power/knowledge relationship is manifested

– the power over life

–the ways the body is disciplined by regimes of power/knowledge
-the “political anatomy of the body”
(we’ll return to this later)

Foucault believed that the basic truths of human nature change throughout history.
The perceived truths of knowledge in a given historical period

Epistemological Leaps
These systems of beliefs do not gradually evolve from one to the other, but LEAP!

But Power is also Functional!
The power-knowledge complex in factories lead to......
Hint: Think modernism in the late 18th early 19th century.

Examples of the medicalization of sexuality ?
Epistemes of Sexuality
1) The Ancient Greeks “Aesthetics of the Self”

2) Early Christians “Hermeneutics of the Self”

Main Interest of Study

the relationship between knowledge and power

the historical construction of the binary pairs "normal and abnormal"

the development of systems of knowledge and definitions of the self

Discipline and Punish (1975)
The Docile Body
A body that can be dominated. It can be manipulated, shaped and trained, until it ultimately becomes transformed and improved, into a body that responds, and obeys.
The seventh-century military solider
A docile-body requires:
discipline acting as its primary mechanism of power
techniques of control--- come together to form a disciplinary mechanism which dominate through strategic manipulation of the bodies elements, gestures and behaviour

The Political Anatomy of the Body
A political anatomy reflects the
certain type political investment existing in the body
, also called "micro-physics" of power.

These powers define how others can control the docile bodies, so that they may function and operate as directed.
Cellular Power


3)Functional Cites of Surveillance


requires that individuals be in a closed off environment where disciplinary practices can be effectively exercised
Panopticism, Docile Bodies, Cellular Power
individuals are partitioned in their own individualized space, segregated from all others within their enclosure.
analytical spaces were intended to correlate the need to supervise with the need to create useful space.
a new system for classifying individuals based on their locations within the social strata. However, positions are not fixed.
Most successful adaptation of this ranking technique?

Individualizing observation, the characterization,
and the classification of individuals into an
analytical arrangement of space.
The Panopticon: A Model for Disciplinary
Society in the 21st Century?
Determining whether the Panopticon provides an accurate representation of the contemporary electronic surveillance systems found in social networking service, such as Facebook.
The 21st century social networking service of Facebook, is NOT a Panopticon full of docile bodies.
The purpose of individualization in the panoptic model
The function of individuality in the online world of Facebook.
While the Panopticon served to abolish all collective activity, Social Networking serves to....
Argument #2
The historical transformation of discipline from the 19th century to today has produced a completely distinct purpose for surveillance technologies.
surveillance is no longer used as a tool of corrective discipline
The primary purpose of surveillance technologies is to
construct and monitor individual consumption patterns
The pages and businesses we “like” on Facebook
Our ability to resistance, and intentionality assist actions of surveillance.
we have become active contributors in our own surveillance!
resistance strategies?
the panopticon, a system based on permanent registration
After examined the Panoptic model's
inability to produce cellular docile bodies
the historical transformation of the disciplinary purpose for surveillance
and a lack of consideration of human agency as active contributors and resistors to electronic efforts of surveillance
It is clear that Foucault’s belief that surveillance can be used to construct the ideal disciplinary society is no longer historically relevant.
Class Discussion
What did you think about my argument? Do you think it is a validated or do you disagree with my position?
BRING ON THE CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM (You'll get candy, but you won't have to get in my car)
Other factors for consideration?
If not Facebook, or social networking services in general, Are there any institutions in the 21st century that could be considered a Panopticon full of docile bodies?
Pop Quiz
Candy Time
Full transcript