Communication Week 8
Foucault's Methods for Researching the "History of the Present":
1) Archaeology: concerned with knowledge formations or EPISTEMES. – seeks material
fragments of history. System of knowledge that dominates. One way of looking at the history of
Episteme: the system of knowledge that dominates a particular historical period (Grk. Epistomai:
"to know", "to believe")
2) Genealogy: concerned with power and knowledge, their interdependence in producing and
sustaining forms of control and means of organizing subjects. – what comes out of these
connections and how they come to dominate. Connection between knowledge and power.
Foucault says we see the connection in the ways in which we talked about the prison as an
institution (in the 1800s)
A "subject of" discourse is always also "subject to" social forces as well.
Question: What may be known of me as a "subject" and how does this knowledge organize me,
my understandings of myself, and my actions?
Histories of Discipline and Punishment
- Jeremy Bentham and the Panopticon
o Ideal prison, a way of disciplining people within the prison
o An all seeing building
o Structure that is an operation of power, through its organization
o The prisoner will behave as though they are always being watched, because they
cannot tell when they are, or are not being watched
o Our visibility causes us to alter our actions, and alter ourselves, visibility has a
power over us that change who we are and our actions
Bentham's Panopticon serves as the metaphorical basis for Foucault's theory of "Panopticism"
which refers to the ways space, time and subjectivity are organized so as to produce particular
effects such as "docility." The model of discipline and self-discipline the Panopticon represents
for prisons is seen by Foucault to permeate the social field and may be seen, not only in
methods of surveillance for purposes of "security," but also in schools, factories, military
barracks, hospitals and other institutions. It is a model in which government by external forces --
the police, the teacher, and so forth -- is replaced by modes of self-government.
DISCOURSE: a set of recurring statements that define a particular cultural object (ex.
Foucault’s discourses are madness, criminality, sexuality) and also provide the concepts and