For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison

by Foucault, Michel (1979)

Key Passage

The gradual extension of the wage-earning class brought with it a more detailed partitioning of time 'If workers arrive later than a quarter of an hour after the ringing of the bell . . .' (Amboise, article z); 'if any one of the companions is asked for during work and loses more than five minutes . . .', 'anyone who is not at his work at the correct time . . .' (Oppenheim, article 7-8). But an attempt is also made to assure the quality of the time used: constant supervision, the pressure of supervisors, the elimination of anything that might disturb or distract; it is a question of constituting a totally useful time: 'It is expressly forbidden during work to amuse one's companions by gestures or in any other way, to play at any game whatsoever, to eat, to sleep, to tell stories and comedies' (Oppenheim, article 16); and even during the rneal-break,'there will be no telling of stories, adventures or other such talk that distracts the workers from their work'f it is expressly forbidden for any worker, under any pretext, to bring wine into the manufactory and to drink in the workshops' (Amboise, article 4). Time measured and paid must also be a time without impurities or defects; a time of good quality, throughout which the body is constantly applied to its exercise. Precision and application are, with regularity, the fundamental virtues of disciplinary time. (p.150)


Discipline, Foucault, Capitalism, Biopower


Discipline and Punish, Foucault Citations, History of Work

Links to Reference


Sheridan, A.



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