"Foucault's great confinement"
by Porter, Roy (1990)
… the contrast with nineteenth-century practice is stark indeed).'° In later studies, especially La volont6 de savoir (1976), Foucault detached himself from those who interpret the disciplines of modernity (eg sexual restraint) as responses to the ' work ethic ' supposedly demanded by …
Foucault’s use of the category ’unreason’ brilliantly captures the ontological and social alienation of the madman in contemporary discourse: he was like a wild animal (not a human), he was idle (not a bourgeois) (Foucault, 1965: 72). Two comments are, however, called for. First, about labour. I do not find prominent in eighteenth-century English discourse the couplings Foucault emphasizes between sanity and work, madness and sloth.9 Less still was there any concerted attempt to put the asylum population to work (the contrast with nineteenth-century practice is stark indeed).’° In later studies, especially La volont6 de savoir (1976), Foucault detached himself from those who interpret the disciplines of modernity (e.g. sexual restraint) as responses to the ’work ethic’ supposedly demanded by capitalist rationality. In his earlier emphasis upon the union of rationality and labour we have, I suggest, an instance of Foucault offering the kind of ’ideological’ interpretation he was later to dismiss as glib Freudo-Marxism. (p.49)
KeywordsFoucault, Madness, Absolutism, Work Ethic, Surveillance, Workhouses, History
ThemesOn Foucault, Foucault
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