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

In the classical age, individuals are controlled and tied down first of all by their membership of castes, communities, and groups, like the jurandes, corporations, guilds, and professional bodies. By belonging to a certain social body, the individual was thereby, first of all, caught up in a set of rules that directed and possibly sanctioned his behavior, and then, in another way, through the group itself, he was caught within an instanceof supervision that did not differ from the group in question. In other words, the group, with its rules and the supervision it exercised, was a sort of endogenous instance of control. From the nineteenth century, on the other hand, individuals are tied, externally as it were, to and by apparatuses of which they are not a part. At birth they are placed in a crèche; in childhood they are sent to school; they go to the workshop; during their life they come under a charity office; they must deposit money in a savings bank; they end in a home. In short, throughout their life, people enter into a multiplicity of links with a multiplicity of institutions, none of which represents them exactly, none of which constitutes them as a group—one does not form a group depositingin a savings bank, going through school, whereas in the classical age, control and supervision was organized within and by the fact that one belonged to a group, such as a corporation, and so on. Thus, individuals are fixed as if from outside by these apparatuses with an institutional specificity in relation to those for whom they are made, which have a spatial location, and so on. (p.205)


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The Punitive Society



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