For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"The Disciplinary Society: From Weber to Foucault"

by O'Neill, John (1986)


[Weber's analysis of bureaucracy is framed in terms of the legal and rational accounting requirements of political and economic organizations. These, in turn, furnish legal domination with its aura of administrative rationality and adequacy. The formal analytic features of bureaucratic discipline are drawn from Weber's studies of the army, church, university, and political party, as well as from the organization of the discovering social sciences. Foucault's studies of the hospital, prison, and school, in addition to accounts of the factory system by Marx and recent social historians, ground Weberian formal analysis in the history of various social techniques for the administration of corporeal, attitidunal and behavioural discipline, i.e., the disciplinary society. Foucault's studies, however controversial, may be seen to extend Weber's concept of rational-legal discipline through studies of the discursive practices that construct a physiology of power/knowledge which deserves the attention of social scientists.]

Key Passage

 It is not far-fetched to consider Weber an archaeologist of the power man exerts over himself, and thus to see him as a precursor of Foucault's conception of the disciplinary society. (p.43)


Weber, Foucault, Discipline, Administration, Society, Factory Work, Power


On Foucault, Foucault

Links to Reference



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