For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

The Punitive Society. Lectures at the Collège de France 1972-1973

by Foucault, Michel (2015)

Key Passage

wealth is, above all, an apparatus of production in relation to which the worker’s body—now directly in the  presence of this wealth that does not belong to him—is no longer merely the locus of desire, but is now the source of labor-power, which must become productive force. It is precisely at this point of the transformation ofphysical strength into labor-power and its integration into a system of production, which will make it a productive force, that a new illegalism is formed which, like that of depredation, concerns the relationshipbetween the worker’s body and the body of wealth, but the point of application of which is no longer the body of wealth as object of possible appropriation, but the worker’s body as force of production. This illegalism essentially consists in refusing to apply this body, this force to the apparatus of production. It may take several forms: 1. the decision of idleness: the refusal to offer these arms, this body, this strength on the labor market; “stealing” them from the law of free competition of labor, from the market; 2. worker  irregularity:* the refusal to apply one’s strength at the proper time and place; this is to dissipate one’s forces, to decide oneself the time during which one will apply them; 3. festive revelry: not safeguarding everything in this force that is a condition for its effective use, to waste it by not taking care of one’s body, by falling into disorderliness;† 4. refusal of family: not using one’s body in the reproduction of its labor-powers in the formof a family, raising its children and guaranteeing through its care the renewal of labor-powers within the family; this is the refusal of the family in cohabitation, debauchery. (p.187)


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The Punitive Society



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