Food for Thought: Foucault – Law and Power

Promising Justice: The Becoming of Law and Society – Michel Foucault: The Power of Law and Society

Foucault’s wide-ranging and prolific body of work revolutionized thinking about power, knowledge, discipline, and government, and Foucaultian scholarship continues to be an important stream of research in socio-legal studies. We will focus on Foucault’s discussion of historical transformations in dominant modes of power – from the sovereign power of the law, to the disciplinary power of surveillance, to the regulatory and productive power of governmentality. Case studies will include medieval torture and Bentham’s panopticon.

Food for thought:

Foucault recognizes three major forms of power, based on sovereignty, discipline, and governmentality. He regards power as a constitutive force, in that power creates subjectivities (ways of thinking and being).

For this week’s food for thought question,

  1. Provide a short overview of disciplinary power (in your own words);
  2. Explain how disciplinary techniques create ‘disciplinary subjects’, and;
  3. Describe an example of how you have been subjected to disciplinary power.
  4. (Bonus) – describe how you have resisted disciplinary mechanisms.

Due: November 11.


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  1. Pingback: Thinking about rule enforcement, surveillance, and discipline | Law and Society@Kwantlen