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

the function of the apparatus in relation to marginality is quite different from the monotonous system of classical confinement: it is not a matter of marginalizing at all, but of fixing within a certain system of the transmission of knowledge, of normalization, of production. Certainly, these apparatuses have a function of marginalization; but they marginalize those who resist. The school in which children are confined is such that the majority is supposed to connect up to a certain apparatus of the transmission of knowledge, and thosewho are resistant to this transmission are marginalized. The machine works in order to demarginalize, and marginalization is only a side effect. The most striking example of this is doubtless that of the homes for abandoned children. Around 1840-1845, the one at Lille functioned in the following way: in the first weeks the child is sent to a wet nurse in the country; at twelve years he returns to the home, where he is given a uniform and sent either to school with other children outside the home or to the workshop. Starting from this marginality of the abandoned child—that is to say, illegitimate child, the fruit of a liaison against which the systems of control established by the bourgeoisie struggle—a marginality marked by the uniform, hence the name they are given, “yellow collars,” the home’s role is to see to it that individuals overcome this marginality by becoming integrated into either the production apparatus or the school apparatus, by connecting up to a certain numberof social apparatuses. So what is involved is a confinement for fixing individuals to and distributing them across social apparatuses. These institutions of confinement function, so to speak, adjoined to the apparatuses ofproduction, transmission of knowledge, and repression, and they assure the kind of supplement of power the latter need in order to function. (p.208)


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The Punitive Society



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