Discipline & Punish - Panopticism

— Foucault, Michel. Panopticism.” In Discipline & Punish: The Birth of the Prison, trans­lated by A. Sheridan, 195-228. Vintage Books, 1995.

3. Panopticism

The fol­low­ing, ac­cord­ing to an or­der pub­lished at the end of the sev­en­teenth cen­tury, were the mea­sures to be taken when the plague ap­peared in a town.

First, a strict spa­tial par­ti­tion­ing: the clos­ing of the town and its out­ly­ing dis­tricts, a pro­hi­bi­tion to leave the town on pain of death, the killing of all stray an­i­mals; the di­vi­sion of the town into dis­tinct quar­ters, each gov­erned by an in­ten­dant. Each street is placed un­der the au­thor­ity of a syn­dic, who keeps it un­der sur­veil­lance; if he leaves the street, he will be con­demned to death. On the ap­pointed day, every­one is or­dered to stay in­doors: it is for­bid­den to leave on pain of death. The syn­dic him­self comes to lock the door of each house from the out­side; he takes the key with him and hands it over to the in­ten­dant of the quar­ter; the in­ten­dant keeps it un­til the end of the quar­an­tine. Each fam­ily will have made its own pro­vi­sions; but, for bread and wine, small wooden canals are set up be­tween the street and the in­te­rior of the houses, thus al­low­ing each per­son to re­ceive his ra­tion with­out com­mu­ni­cat­ing with the sup­pli­ers and other res­i­dents; meat, fish and herbs will be hoisted up into the houses with pul­leys and bas­kets. If it is ab­solutely nec­es­sary to leave the house, it will be done in turn, avoid­ing any meet­ing. Only the in­ten­dants, syn­dics and guards will move about the streets and also, be­tween the in­fected houses, from one corpse to an­other, the crows”, who can be left to die: these are people of lit­tle sub­stance who carry the sick, bury the dead, clean and do many vile and ab­ject of­fices”. It is a seg­mented, im­mo­bile, frozen space. Each in­di­vid­ual is fixed in his place. And, if he moves, he does so at the risk of his life, con­ta­gion or pun­ish­ment.

Inspection func­tions cease­lessly. The gaze is alert every­where: A con­sid­er­able body of mili­tia, com­manded by good of­fi­cers and men of sub­stance”, guards at the gates, at the town hall and in every quar­ter to en­sure the prompt obe­di­ence of the peo­ple and the most ab­solute au­thor­ity of the mag­is­trates, as also to ob­serve all dis­or­der, theft and ex­tor­tion”. At each of the town gates there will be an ob­ser­va­tion post; at the end of each street sen­tinels. Every day, the in­ten­dant vis­its the quar­ter in his charge, in­quires whether the syn­dics have car­ried out their tasks, whether the in­hab­i­tants have any­thing to com­plain of; they observe their ac­tions”. Every day, too, the syn­dic goes into the street for which he is re­spon­si­ble; stops be­fore each house: gets all the in­hab­i­tants to ap­pear at the win­dows (those who live over­look­ing the court­yard will be al­lo­cated a win­dow look­ing onto the street at which no one but they may show them­selves); he calls each of them by name; in­forms him­self as to the state of each and every one of them in which re­spect the in­hab­i­tants will be com­pelled to speak the truth un­der pain of death”; if some­one does not ap­pear at the win­dow, the syn­dic must ask why: In this way he will find out eas­ily enough whether dead or sick are be­ing con­cealed.” Everyone locked up in his cage, every­one at his win­dow, an­swer­ing to his name and show­ing him­self when asked — it is the great re­view of the liv­ing and the dead.

This sur­veil­lance is based on a sys­tem of per­ma­nent reg­is­tra­tion: re­ports from the syn­dics to the in­ten­dants, from the in­ten­dants to the mag­is­trates or mayor At the be­gin­ning of the lock up”, the role of each of the in­hab­i­tants pre­sent in the town is laid down, one by one; this doc­u­ment bears the name, age, sex of every­one, notwith­stand­ing his con­di­tion”: a copy is sent to the in­ten­dant of the quar­ter, an­other to the of­fice of the town hall, an­other to en­able the syn­dic to make his daily roll call. Everything that may be ob­served dur­ing the course of the vis­its — deaths, ill­nesses, com­plaints, ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties is noted down and trans­mit­ted to the in­ten­dants and mag­is­trates. The mag­is­trates have com­plete con­trol over med­ical treat­ment; they have ap­pointed a physi­cian in charge; no other prac­ti­tioner may treat, no apothe­cary pre­pare med­i­cine, no con­fes­sor visit a sick per­son with­out hav­ing re­ceived from him a writ­ten note to pre­vent any­one from con­ceal­ing and deal­ing with those sick of the con­ta­gion, un­known to the mag­is­trates”. The reg­is­tra­tion of the patho­log­i­cal must be con­stantly cen­tral­ized. The re­la­tion of each in­di­vid­ual to his dis­ease and to his death passes through the rep­re­sen­ta­tives of power, the reg­is­tra­tion they make of it, the de­ci­sions they take on it.

Five or six days af­ter the be­gin­ning of the quar­an­tine, the process of pu­ri­fy­ing the houses one by one is be­gun. All the in­hab­i­tants are made to leave; in each room the fur­ni­ture and goods” are raised from the ground or sus­pended from the air; per­fume is poured around the room; af­ter care­fully seal­ing the win­dows, doors and even the key­holes with wax, the per­fume is set alight. Finally, the en­tire house is closed while the per­fume is con­sumed; those who have car­ried out the work are searched, as they were on en­try, in the pres­ence of the res­i­dents of the house, to see that they did not have some­thing on their per­sons as they left that they did not have on en­ter­ing”. Four hours later, the res­i­dents are al­lowed to re-en­ter their homes.

This en­closed, seg­mented space, ob­served at every point, in l which the in­di­vid­u­als are in­serted in a fixed place, in which the slight­est move­ments are su­per­vised, in which all events are recorded, in which an un­in­ter­rupted work of writ­ing links the cen­tre and pe­riph­ery, in which power is ex­er­cised with­out di­vi­sion, ac­cord­ing to a con­tin­u­ous hi­er­ar­chi­cal fig­ure, in which each in­di­vid­ual is con­stantly lo­cated, ex­am­ined and dis­trib­uted among the liv­ing be­ings, the sick and the dead — all this con­sti­tutes a com­pact model of the dis­ci­pli­nary mech­a­nism. The plague is met by or­der; its func­tion is to sort out every pos­si­ble con­fu­sion: that of the dis­ease, which is trans­mit­ted when bod­ies are mixed to­gether; that of the evil, which is in­creased when fear and death over­come pro­hi­bi­tions. It lays down for each in­di­vid­ual his place, his body, his dis­ease and his death, his well-be­ing, by means of an om­nipresent and om­ni­scient power that sub­di­vides it­self in a reg­u­lar, un­in­ter­rupted way even to the ul­ti­mate de­ter­mi­na­tion of the in­di­vid­ual, of what char­ac­ter­izes him, of what be­longs to him, of what hap­pens to him. Against the plague, which is a mix­ture, dis­ci­pline brings into play its power, which is one of analy­sis. A whole lit­er­ary fic­tion of the fes­ti­val grew up around the plague: sus­pended laws, lifted pro­hi­bi­tions, the frenzy of pass­ing time, bod­ies min­gling to­gether with­out re­spect, in­di­vid­u­als un­masked, aban­don­ing their statu­tory iden­tity and the fig­ure un­der which they had been rec­og­nized, al­low­ing a quite dif­fer­ent truth to ap­pear. But there was also a po­lit­i­cal dream of the plague, which was ex­actly its re­verse: not the col­lec­tive fes­ti­val, but strict di­vi­sions; not laws trans­gressed, but the pen­e­tra­tion of reg­u­la­tion into even the small­est de­tails of every­day life through the me­di­a­tion of the com­plete hi­er­ar­chy that as­sured the cap­il­lary func­tion­ing of power; not masks that were put on and taken off, but the as­sign­ment to each in­di­vid­ual of his true” name, his true” place, his true” body, his true” dis­ease. The plague as a form, at once real and imag­i­nary, of dis­or­der had as its med­ical and po­lit­i­cal cor­rel­a­tive dis­ci­pline. Behind the dis­ci­pli­nary mech­a­nisms can be read the haunt­ing mem­ory of contagions”, of the plague, of re­bel­lions, crimes, vagabondage, de­ser­tions, peo­ple who ap­pear and dis­ap­pear, live and die in dis­or­der.

If it is true that the leper gave rise to rit­u­als of ex­clu­sion, which to a cer­tain ex­tent pro­vided the model for and gen­eral form of the great Confinement, then the plague gave rise to dis­ci­pli­nary pro­jects. Rather than the mas­sive, bi­nary di­vi­sion be­tween one set of peo­ple and an­other, it called for mul­ti­ple sep­a­ra­tions, in­di­vid­u­al­iz­ing dis­tri­b­u­tions, an or­ga­ni­za­tion in depth of sur­veil­lance and con­trol, an in­ten­si­fi­ca­tion and a ram­i­fi­ca­tion of power. The leper was caught up in a prac­tice of re­jec­tion, of ex­ile-en­clo­sure; he was left to his doom in a mass among which it was use­less to dif­fer­en­ti­ate; those sick of the plague were caught up in a metic­u­lous tac­ti­cal par­ti­tion­ing in which in­di­vid­ual dif­fer­en­ti­a­tions were the con­strict­ing ef­fects of a power that mul­ti­plied, ar­tic­u­lated and sub­di­vided it­self; the great con­fine­ment on the one hand; the cor­rect train­ing on the other. The leper and his sep­a­ra­tion; the plague and its seg­men­ta­tions. The first is marked; the sec­ond analysed and dis­trib­uted. The ex­ile of the leper and the ar­rest of the plague do not bring with them the same po­lit­i­cal dream. The first is that of a pure com­mu­nity, the sec­ond that of a dis­ci­plined so­ci­ety. Two ways of ex­er­cis­ing power over men, of con­trol­ling their re­la­tions, of sep­a­rat­ing out their dan­ger­ous mix­tures. The plague-stricken town, tra­versed through­out with hi­er­ar­chy, sur­veil­lance, ob­ser­va­tion, writ­ing; the town im­mo­bi­lized by the func­tion­ing of an ex­ten­sive power that bears in a dis­tinct way over all in­di­vid­ual bod­ies - this is the utopia of the per­fectly gov­erned city. The plague (envisaged as a pos­si­bil­ity at least) is the trial in the course of which one may de­fine ide­ally the ex­er­cise of dis­ci­pli­nary power. In or­der to make rights and laws func­tion ac­cord­ing to pure the­ory, the ju­rists place them­selves in imag­i­na­tion in the state of na­ture; in or­der to see per­fect dis­ci­plines func­tion­ing, rulers dreamt of the state of plague. Underlying dis­ci­pli­nary pro­jects the im­age of the plague stands for all forms of con­fu­sion and dis­or­der; just as the im­age of the leper, cut off from all hu­man con­tact, un­der­lies pro­jects of ex­clu­sion.

They are dif­fer­ent pro­jects, then, but not in­com­pat­i­ble ones. We see them com­ing slowly to­gether, and it is the pe­cu­liar­ity of the nine­teenth cen­tury that it ap­plied to the space of ex­clu­sion of which the leper was the sym­bolic in­hab­i­tant (beggars, vagabonds, mad­men and the dis­or­derly formed the real pop­u­la­tion) the tech­nique of power proper to dis­ci­pli­nary par­ti­tion­ing. Treat lepers” as plague vic­tims”, pro­ject the sub­tle seg­men­ta­tions of dis­ci­pline onto the con­fused space of in­tern­ment, com­bine it with the meth­ods of an­a­lyt­i­cal dis­tri­b­u­tion proper to power, in­di­vid­u­al­ize the ex­cluded, but use pro­ce­dures of in­di­vid­u­al­iza­tion to mark ex­clu­sion — this is what was op­er­ated reg­u­larly by dis­ci­pli­nary power from the be­gin­ning of the nine­teenth cen­tury in the psy­chi­atric asy­lum, the pen­i­ten­tiary, the re­for­ma­tory, the ap­proved school and, to some ex­tent, the hos­pi­tal. Generally speak­ing, all the au­thor­i­ties ex­er­cis­ing in­di­vid­ual con­trol func­tion ac­cord­ing to a dou­ble mode; that of bi­nary di­vi­sion and brand­ing (mad/sane; dan­ger­ous/​harm­less; nor­mal/​ab­nor­mal); and that of co­er­cive as­sign­ment of dif­fer­en­tial dis­tri­b­u­tion (who he is; where he must be; how he is to be char­ac­ter­ized; how he is to be rec­og­nized; how a con­stant sur­veil­lance is to be ex­er­cised over him in an in­di­vid­ual way, etc.). On the one hand, the lep­ers are treated as plague vic­tims; the tac­tics of in­di­vid­u­al­iz­ing dis­ci­plines are im­posed on the ex­cluded; and, on the other hand, the uni­ver­sal­ity of dis­ci­pli­nary con­trols makes it pos­si­ble to brand the leper” and to bring into play against him the du­al­is­tic mech­a­nisms of ex­clu­sion. The con­stant di­vi­sion be­tween the nor­mal and the ab­nor­mal, to which every in­di­vid­ual is sub­jected, brings us back to our own time, by ap­ply­ing the bi­nary brand­ing and ex­ile of the leper to quite dif­fer­ent ob­jects; the ex­is­tence of a whole set of tech­niques and in­sti­tu­tions for mea­sur­ing, su­per­vis­ing and cor­rect­ing the ab­nor­mal brings into play the dis­ci­pli­nary mech­a­nisms to which the fear of the plague gave rise. All the mech­a­nisms of power which, even to­day, are dis­posed around the ab­nor­mal in­di­vid­ual, to brand him and to al­ter him, are com­posed of those two forms from which they dis­tantly de­rive.

Bentham’s Panopticon is the ar­chi­tec­tural fig­ure of this com­po­si­tion. We know the prin­ci­ple on which it was based: at the pe­riph­ery, an an­nu­lar build­ing; at the cen­tre, a tower; this tower is pierced with wide win­dows that open onto the in­ner side of the ring; the pe­riph­eric build­ing is di­vided into cells, each of which ex­tends the whole width of the build­ing; they have two win­dows, one on the in­side, cor­re­spond­ing to the win­dows of the tower; the other, on the out­side, al­lows the light to cross the cell from one end to the other. All that is needed, then, is to place a su­per­vi­sor in a cen­tral tower and to shut up in each cell a mad­man, a pa­tient, a con­demned man, a worker or a school­boy. By the ef­fect of back­light­ing, one can ob­serve from the tower, stand­ing out pre­cisely against the light, the small cap­tive shad­ows in the cells of the pe­riph­ery. They are like so many cages, so many small the­atres, in which each ac­tor is alone, per­fectly in­di­vid­u­al­ized and con­stantly vis­i­ble. The panop­tic mech­a­nism arranges spa­tial uni­ties that make it pos­si­ble to see con­stantly and to rec­og­nize im­me­di­ately. In short, it re­verses the prin­ci­ple of the dun­geon; or rather of its three func­tions — to en­close, to de­prive of light and to hide — it pre­serves only the first and elim­i­nates the other two. Full light­ing and the eye of a su­per­vi­sor cap­ture bet­ter than dark­ness, which ul­ti­mately pro­tected. Visibility is a trap.

To be­gin with, this made it pos­si­ble — as a neg­a­tive ef­fect — to avoid those com­pact, swarm­ing, howl­ing masses that were to be found in places of con­fine­ment, those painted by Goya or de­scribed by Howard. Each in­di­vid­ual, in his place, is se­curely con­fined to a cell from which he is seen from the front by the su­per­vi­sor; but the side walls pre­vent him from com­ing into con­tact with his com­pan­ions. He is seen, but he does not see; he is the ob­ject of in­for­ma­tion, never a sub­ject in com­mu­ni­ca­tion. The arrange­ment of his room, op­po­site the cen­tral tower, im­poses on him an ax­ial vis­i­bil­ity; but the di­vi­sions of the ring, those sep­a­rated cells, im­ply a lat­eral in­vis­i­bil­ity. And this in­vis­i­bil­ity is a guar­an­tee of or­der. If the in­mates are con­victs, there is no dan­ger of a plot, an at­tempt at col­lec­tive es­cape, the plan­ning of new crimes for the fu­ture, bad rec­i­p­ro­cal in­flu­ences; if they are pa­tients, there is no dan­ger of con­ta­gion; if they are mad­men there is no risk of their com­mit­ting vi­o­lence upon one an­other; if they are school­child­ren, there is no copy­ing, no noise, no chat­ter, no waste of time; if they are work­ers, there are no dis­or­ders, no theft, no coali­tions, none of those dis­trac­tions that slow down the rate of work, make it less per­fect or cause ac­ci­dents. The crowd, a com­pact mass, a lo­cus of mul­ti­ple ex­changes, in­di­vid­u­al­i­ties merg­ing to­gether, a col­lec­tive ef­fect, is abol­ished and re­placed by a col­lec­tion of sep­a­rated in­di­vid­u­al­i­ties. From the point of view of the guardian, it is re­placed by a mul­ti­plic­ity that can be num­bered and su­per­vised; from the point of view of the in­mates, by a se­questered and ob­served soli­tude (Bentham, 60-64).

Hence the ma­jor ef­fect of the Panopticon: to in­duce in the in­mate a state of con­scious and per­ma­nent vis­i­bil­ity that as­sures the au­to­matic func­tion­ing of power. So to arrange things that the sur­veil­lance is per­ma­nent in its ef­fects, even if it is dis­con­tin­u­ous in its ac­tion; that the per­fec­tion of power should tend to ren­der its ac­tual ex­er­cise un­nec­es­sary; that this ar­chi­tec­tural ap­pa­ra­tus should be a ma­chine for cre­at­ing and sus­tain­ing a power re­la­tion in­de­pen­dent of the per­son who ex­er­cises it; in short, that the in­mates should be caught up in a power sit­u­a­tion of which they are them­selves the bear­ers. To achieve this, it is at once too much and too lit­tle that the pris­oner should be con­stantly ob­served by an in­spec­tor: too lit­tle, for what mat­ters is that he knows him­self to be ob­served; too much, be­cause he has no need in fact of be­ing so. In view of this, Bentham laid down the prin­ci­ple that power should be vis­i­ble and un­ver­i­fi­able. Visible: the in­mate will con­stantly have be­fore his eyes the tall out­line of the cen­tral tower from which he is spied upon. Unverifiable: the in­mate must never know whether he is be­ing looked at at any one mo­ment; but he must be sure that he may al­ways be so. In or­der to make the pres­ence or ab­sence of the in­spec­tor un­ver­i­fi­able, so that the pris­on­ers, in their cells, can­not even see a shadow, Bentham en­vis­aged not only venet­ian blinds on the win­dows of the cen­tral ob­ser­va­tion hall, but, on the in­side, par­ti­tions that in­ter­sected the hall at right an­gles and, in or­der to pass from one quar­ter to the other, not doors but zig-zag open­ings; for the slight­est noise, a gleam of light, a bright­ness in a half-opened door would be­tray the pres­ence of the guardian. The Panopticon is a ma­chine for dis­so­ci­at­ing the see/​be­ing seen dyad: in the pe­riph­eric ring, one is to­tally seen, with­out ever see­ing; in the cen­tral tower, one sees every­thing with­out ever be­ing seen.

It is an im­por­tant mech­a­nism, for it au­tom­a­tizes and disin­di­vid­u­al­izes power. Power has its prin­ci­ple not so much in a per­son as in a cer­tain con­certed dis­tri­b­u­tion of bod­ies, sur­faces, lights, gazes; in an arrange­ment whose in­ter­nal mech­a­nisms pro­duce the re­la­tion in which in­di­vid­u­als are caught up. The cer­e­monies, the rit­u­als, the marks by which the sov­er­eign’s sur­plus power was man­i­fested are use­less. There is a ma­chin­ery that as­sures dis­sym­me­try, dis­e­qui­lib­rium, dif­fer­ence. Consequently, it does not mat­ter who ex­er­cises power. Any in­di­vid­ual, taken al­most at ran­dom, can op­er­ate the ma­chine: in the ab­sence of the di­rec­tor, his fam­ily, his friends, his vis­i­tors, even his ser­vants (Bentham, 45). Similarly, it does not mat­ter what mo­tive an­i­mates him: the cu­rios­ity of the in­dis­creet, the mal­ice of a child, the thirst for knowl­edge of a philoso­pher who wishes to visit this mu­seum of hu­man na­ture, or the per­ver­sity of those who take plea­sure in spy­ing and pun­ish­ing. The more nu­mer­ous those anony­mous and tem­po­rary ob­servers are, the greater the risk for the in­mate of be­ing sur­prised and the greater his anx­ious aware­ness of be­ing ob­served. The Panopticon is a mar­vel­lous ma­chine which, what­ever use one may wish to put it to, pro­duces ho­mo­ge­neous ef­fects of power.

A real sub­jec­tion is born me­chan­i­cally from a fic­ti­tious re­la­tion. So it is not nec­es­sary to use force to con­strain the con­vict to good be­hav­iour, the mad­man to calm, the worker to work, the school­boy to ap­pli­ca­tion, the pa­tient to the ob­ser­va­tion of the reg­u­la­tions. Bentham was sur­prised that panop­tic in­sti­tu­tions could be so light: there were no more bars, no more chains, no more heavy locks; all that was needed was that the sep­a­ra­tions should be clear and the open­ings well arranged. The heav­i­ness of the old houses of se­cu­rity”, with their fortress-like ar­chi­tec­ture, could be re­placed by the sim­ple, eco­nomic geom­e­try of a house of cer­tainty”. The ef­fi­ciency of power, its con­strain­ing force have, in a sense, passed over to the other side — to the side of its sur­face of ap­pli­ca­tion. He who is sub­jected to a field of vis­i­bil­ity, and who knows it, as­sumes re­spon­si­bil­ity for the con­straints of power; he makes them play spon­ta­neously upon him­self; he in­scribes in him­self the power re­la­tion in which he si­mul­ta­ne­ously plays both roles; he be­comes the prin­ci­ple of his own sub­jec­tion. By this very fact, the ex­ter­nal power may throw off its phys­i­cal weight; it tends to the non-cor­po­ral; and, the more it ap­proaches this limit, the more con­stant, pro­found and per­ma­nent are its ef­fects: it is a per­pet­ual vic­tory that avoids any phys­i­cal con­fronta­tion and which is al­ways de­cided in ad­vance.

Bentham does not say whether he was in­spired, in his pro­ject, by Le Vaux’s menagerie at Versailles: the first menagerie in which the dif­fer­ent el­e­ments are not, as they tra­di­tion­ally were, dis­trib­uted in a park (Loisel, 104-7). At the cen­tre was an oc­tag­o­nal pavil­ion which, on the first floor, con­sisted of only a sin­gle room, the king’s sa­lon; on every side large win­dows looked out onto seven cages (the eighth side was re­served for the en­trance), con­tain­ing dif­fer­ent species of an­i­mals. By Bentham’s time, this menagerie had dis­ap­peared. But one finds in the pro­gramme of the Panopticon a sim­i­lar con­cern with in­di­vid­u­al­iz­ing ob­ser­va­tion, with char­ac­ter­i­za­tion and clas­si­fi­ca­tion, with the an­a­lyt­i­cal arrange­ment of space. The Panopticon is a royal menagerie; the an­i­mal is re­placed by man,, in­di­vid­ual dis­tri­b­u­tion by spe­cific group­ing and the king by the ma­chin­ery of a furtive power. With this ex­cep­tion, the Panopticon also does the work of a nat­u­ral­ist. It makes it pos­si­ble to draw up dif­fer­ences: among pa­tients, to ob­serve the symp­toms of each in­di­vid­ual, with­out the prox­im­ity of beds, the cir­cu­la­tion of mi­as­mas, the ef­fects of con­ta­gion con­fus­ing the clin­i­cal ta­bles; among school-chil­dren, it makes it pos­si­ble to ob­serve per­for­mances (without there be­ing any im­i­ta­tion or copy­ing), to map ap­ti­tudes, to as­sess char­ac­ters, to draw up rig­or­ous clas­si­fi­ca­tions and, in re­la­tion to nor­mal de­vel­op­ment, to dis­tin­guish laziness and stub­born­ness” from incurable im­be­cil­ity”; among work­ers, it makes it pos­si­ble to note the ap­ti­tudes of each worker, com­pare the time he takes to per­form a task, and if they are paid by the day, to cal­cu­late their wages (Bentham, 60-64).

So much for the ques­tion of ob­ser­va­tion. But the Panopticon was also a lab­o­ra­tory; it could be used as a ma­chine to carry out ex­per­i­ments, to al­ter be­hav­iour, to train or cor­rect in­di­vid­u­als. To ex­per­i­ment with med­i­cines and mon­i­tor their ef­fects. To try out dif­fer­ent pun­ish­ments on pris­on­ers, ac­cord­ing to their crimes and char­ac­ter, and to seek the most ef­fec­tive ones. To teach dif­fer­ent tech­niques si­mul­ta­ne­ously to the work­ers, to de­cide which is the best. To try out ped­a­gog­i­cal ex­per­i­ments — and in par­tic­u­lar to take up once again the well-de­bated prob­lem of se­cluded ed­u­ca­tion, by us­ing or­phans. One would see what would hap­pen when, in their six­teenth or eigh­teenth year, they were pre­sented with other boys or girls; one could ver­ify whether, as Helvetius thought, any­one could learn any­thing; one would fol­low the ge­neal­ogy of every ob­serv­able idea”; one could bring up dif­fer­ent chil­dren ac­cord­ing to dif­fer­ent sys­tems of thought, mak­ing cer­tain chil­dren be­lieve that two and two do not make four or that the moon is a cheese, then put them to­gether when they are twenty or twenty-five years old; one would then have dis­cus­sions that would be worth a great deal more than the ser­mons or lec­tures on which so much money is spent; one would have at least an op­por­tu­nity of mak­ing dis­cov­er­ies in the do­main of meta­physics. The Panopticon is a priv­i­leged place for ex­per­i­ments on men, and for analysing with com­plete cer­tainty the trans­for­ma­tions that may be ob­tained from them. The Panopticon may even pro­vide an ap­pa­ra­tus for su­per­vis­ing its own mech­a­nisms. In this cen­tral tower, the di­rec­tor may spy on all the em­ploy­ees that he has un­der his or­ders: nurses, doc­tors, fore­men, teach­ers, warders; he will be able to judge them con­tin­u­ously, al­ter their be­hav­iour, im­pose upon them the meth­ods he thinks best; and it will even be pos­si­ble to ob­serve the di­rec­tor him­self. An in­spec­tor ar­riv­ing un­ex­pect­edly at the cen­tre of the Panopticon will be able to judge at a glance, with­out any­thing be­ing con­cealed from him, how the en­tire es­tab­lish­ment is func­tion­ing. And, in any case, en­closed as he is in the mid­dle of this ar­chi­tec­tural mech­a­nism, is not the di­rec­tor’s own fate en­tirely bound up with it ? The in­com­pe­tent physi­cian who has al­lowed con­ta­gion to spread, the in­com­pe­tent prison gov­er­nor or work­shop man­ager will be the first vic­tims of an epi­demic or a re­volt. By every tie I could de­vise”, said the mas­ter of the Panopticon, my own fate had been bound up by me with theirs”’ (Bentham, 177). The Panopticon func­tions as a kind of lab­o­ra­tory of power. Thanks to its mech­a­nisms of ob­ser­va­tion, it gains in ef­fi­ciency and in the abil­ity to pen­e­trate into men’s be­hav­iour; knowl­edge fol­lows the ad­vances of power, dis­cov­er­ing new ob­jects of knowl­edge over all the sur­faces on which power is ex­er­cised.

The plague-stricken town, the panop­tic es­tab­lish­ment — the dif­fer­ences are im­por­tant. They mark, at a dis­tance of a cen­tury and a half, the trans­for­ma­tions of the dis­ci­pli­nary pro­gramme. In the first case, there is an ex­cep­tional sit­u­a­tion: against an ex­tra­or­di­nary evil, power is mo­bi­lized; it makes it­self every­where pre­sent and vis­i­ble; it in­vents new mech­a­nisms; it sep­a­rates, it im­mo­bi­lizes, it par­ti­tions con­structs for a time what is both a counter-city and the per­fect so­ci­ety; it im­poses an ideal func­tion­ing, but one that is re­duced, in the fi­nal analy­sis, like the evil that it com­bats, to a sim­ple du­al­ism of life and death: that which moves brings death, and one kills that which moves. The Panopticon, on the other hand, must be un­der­stood as a gen­er­al­iz­able model of func­tion­ing; a way of defin­ing power re­la­tions in terms of the every­day life of men. No doubt Bentham pre­sents it as a par­tic­u­lar in­sti­tu­tion, closed in upon it­self. Utopias, per­fectly closed in upon them­selves, are com­mon enough. As op­posed to the ru­ined pris­ons, lit­tered with mech­a­nisms of tor­ture, to be seen in Piranese’s en­grav­ings, the Panopticon pre­sents a cruel, in­ge­nious cage. The fact that it should have given rise, even in our own time, to so many vari­a­tions, pro­jected or re­al­ized, is ev­i­dence of the imag­i­nary in­ten­sity that it has pos­sessed for al­most two hun­dred years. But the Panopticon must not be un­der­stood as a dream build­ing: it is the di­a­gram of a mech­a­nism of l power re­duced to its ideal form; its func­tion­ing, ab­stracted from any ob­sta­cle, re­sis­tance or fric­tion, must be rep­re­sented as a pure ar­chi­tec­tural and op­ti­cal sys­tem: it is in fact a fig­ure of po­lit­i­cal tech­nol­ogy that may and must be de­tached from any spe­cific use.

It is poly­va­lent in its ap­pli­ca­tions; it serves to re­form pris­on­ers, but also to treat pa­tients, to in­struct school­child­ren, to con­fine the in­sane, to su­per­vise work­ers, to put beg­gars and idlers to work. It is a type of lo­ca­tion of bod­ies in space, of dis­tri­b­u­tion of in­di­vid­u­als in re­la­tion to one an­other, of hi­er­ar­chi­cal or­ga­ni­za­tion, of dis­po­si­tion of cen­tres and chan­nels of power, of de­f­i­n­i­tion of the in­stru­ments and modes of in­ter­ven­tion of power, which can be im­ple­mented in hos­pi­tals, work­shops, schools, pris­ons. Whenever one is deal­ing with a mul­ti­plic­ity of in­di­vid­u­als on whom a task or a par­tic­u­lar form of be­hav­iour must be im­posed, the panop­tic schema may be used. It is — nec­es­sary mod­i­fi­ca­tions apart — ap­plic­a­ble to all es­tab­lish­ments what­so­ever, in which, within a space not too large to be cov­ered or com­manded by build­ings, a num­ber of per­sons are meant to be kept un­der in­spec­tion” (Bentham, 40; al­though Bentham takes the pen­i­ten­tiary house as his prime ex­am­ple, it is be­cause it has many dif­fer­ent func­tions to ful­fil — safe cus­tody, con­fine­ment, soli­tude, forced labour and in­struc­tion).

In each of its ap­pli­ca­tions, it makes it pos­si­ble to per­fect the ex­er­cise of power. It does this in sev­eral ways: be­cause it can re­duce the num­ber of those who ex­er­cise it, while in­creas­ing the num­ber of those on whom it is ex­er­cised. Because it is pos­si­ble to in­ter­vene at any mo­ment and be­cause the con­stant pres­sure acts even be­fore the of­fences, mis­takes or crimes have been com­mit­ted. Because, in these con­di­tions, its strength is that it never in­ter­venes, it is ex­er­cised spon­ta­neously and with­out noise, it con­sti­tutes a mech­a­nism whose ef­fects fol­low from one an­other. Because, with­out any phys­i­cal in­stru­ment other than ar­chi­tec­ture and geom­e­try, it acts di­rectly on in­di­vid­u­als; it gives power of mind over mind”. The panop­tic schema makes any ap­pa­ra­tus of power more in­tense: it as­sures its econ­omy (in ma­te­r­ial, in per­son­nel, in time); it as­sures its ef­fi­cac­ity by its pre­ven­ta­tive char­ac­ter, its con­tin­u­ous func­tion­ing and its au­to­matic mech­a­nisms. It is a way of ob­tain­ing from power in hith­erto un­ex­am­pled quan­tity”, a great and new in­stru­ment of gov­ern­ment . . .; its great ex­cel­lence con­sists in the great strength it is ca­pa­ble of giv­ing to any in­sti­tu­tion it may be thought proper to ap­ply it to” (Bentham, 66).

It’s a case of it’s easy once you’ve thought of it” in the po­lit­i­cal sphere. It can in fact be in­te­grated into any func­tion (education, med­ical treat­ment, pro­duc­tion, pun­ish­ment); it can in­crease the ef­fect of this func­tion, by be­ing linked closely with it; it can con­sti­tute a mixed mech­a­nism in which re­la­tions of power (and of knowl­edge) may be pre­cisely ad­justed, in the small­est de­tail, to the processes that are to be su­per­vised; it can es­tab­lish a di­rect pro­por­tion be­tween surplus power” and surplus pro­duc­tion”. In short, it arranges things in such a way that the ex­er­cise of power is not added on from the out­side, like a rigid, heavy con­straint, to the func­tions it in­vests, but is so sub­tly pre­sent in them as to in­crease their ef­fi­ciency by it­self in­creas­ing its own points of con­tact. The panop­tic mech­a­nism is not sim­ply a hinge, a point of ex­change be­tween a mech­a­nism of power and a func­tion; it is a way of mak­ing power re­la­tions func­tion in a func­tion, and of mak­ing a func­tion func­tion through these power re­la­tions. Bentham’s Preface to Panopticon opens with a list of the ben­e­fits to be ob­tained from his inspection-house”: Morals re­formed health pre­served - in­dus­try in­vig­o­rated - in­struc­tion dif­fused - pub­lic bur­thens light­ened - Economy seated, as it were, upon a rock — the gor­dian knot of the Poor-Laws not cut, but un­tied — all by a sim­ple idea in ar­chi­tec­ture!” (Bentham, 39)

Furthermore, the arrange­ment of this ma­chine is such that its en­closed na­ture does not pre­clude a per­ma­nent pres­ence from the out­side: we have seen that any­one may come and ex­er­cise in the cen­tral tower the func­tions of sur­veil­lance, and that, this be­ing the case, he can gain a clear idea of the way in which the sur­veil­lance is prac­tised. In fact, any panop­tic in­sti­tu­tion, even if it is as rig­or­ously closed as a pen­i­ten­tiary, may with­out dif­fi­culty be sub­jected to such ir­reg­u­lar and con­stant in­spec­tions: and not only by the ap­pointed in­spec­tors, but also by the pub­lic; any mem­ber of so­ci­ety will have the right to come and see with his own eyes how the schools, hos­pi­tals, fac­to­ries, pris­ons func­tion. There is no risk, there­fore, that the in­crease of power cre­ated by the panop­tic ma­chine may de­gen­er­ate into tyranny; he dis­ci­pli­nary mech­a­nism will be de­mo­c­ra­t­i­cally con­trolled, since it will be con­stantly ac­ces­si­ble to the great tri­bunal com­mit­tee of the world”. This Panopticon, sub­tly arranged so that an ob­server may ob­serve, at a glance, so many dif­fer­ent in­di­vid­u­als, also en­ables every­one to come and ob­serve any of the ob­servers. The see­ing ma­chine was once a sort of dark room into which in­di­vid­u­als spied; it has be­come a trans­par­ent build­ing in which the ex­er­cise of power may be su­per­vised by so­ci­ety as a whole.

The panop­tic schema, with­out dis­ap­pear­ing as such or los­ing any of its prop­er­ties, was des­tined to spread through­out the so­cial body; its vo­ca­tion was to be­come a gen­er­al­ized func­tion. The plague-stricken town pro­vided an ex­cep­tional dis­ci­pli­nary model: per­fect, but ab­solutely vi­o­lent; to the dis­ease that brought death, power op­posed its per­pet­ual threat of death; life in­side it was re­duced to its sim­plest ex­pres­sion; it was, against the power of death, the metic­u­lous ex­er­cise of the right of the sword. The Panopticon, on the other hand, has a role of am­pli­fi­ca­tion; al­though it arranges power, al­though it is in­tended to make it more eco­nomic and more ef­fec­tive, it does so not for power it­self, nor for the im­me­di­ate sal­va­tion of a threat­ened so­ci­ety: its aim is to strengthen the so­cial forces — to in­crease pro­duc­tion, to de­velop the econ­omy, spread ed­u­ca­tion, raise the level of pub­lic moral­ity; to in­crease and mul­ti­ply.

How is power to be strength­ened in such a way that, far from im­ped­ing progress, far from weigh­ing upon it with its rules and reg­u­la­tions, it ac­tu­ally fa­cil­i­tates such progress ? What in­ten­si­fi­ca­tor of power will be able at the same time to be a mul­ti­pli­ca­tor of pro­duc­tion ? How will power, by in­creas­ing its forces, be able to in­crease those of so­ci­ety in­stead of con­fis­cat­ing them or im­ped­ing them ? The Panopticon’s so­lu­tion to this prob­lem is that the pro­duc­tive in­crease of power can be as­sured only if, on the one hand, it can be ex­er­cised con­tin­u­ously in the very foun­da­tions of so­ci­ety, in the sub­tlest pos­si­ble way, and if, on the other hand, it func­tions out­side these sud­den, vi­o­lent, dis­con­tin­u­ous forms that are bound up with the ex­er­cise of sov­er­eignty. The body of the king, with its strange ma­te­r­ial and phys­i­cal pres­ence, with the force that he him­self de­ploys or trans­mits to some few oth­ers, is at the op­po­site ex­treme of this new physics of power rep­re­sented by panop­ti­cism; the do­main of panop­ti­cism is, on the con­trary, that whole lower re­gion, that re­gion of ir­reg­u­lar bod­ies, with their de­tails, their mul­ti­ple move­ments, their het­ero­ge­neous forces, their spa­tial re­la­tions; what are re­quired are mech­a­nisms that analyse dis­tri­b­u­tions, gaps, se­ries, com­bi­na­tions, and which use in­stru­ments that ren­der vis­i­ble, record, dif­fer­en­ti­ate and com­pare: a physics of a re­la­tional and mul­ti­ple power, which has its max­i­mum in­ten­sity not in the per­son of the king, but in the bod­ies that can be in­di­vid­u­al­ized by these re­la­tions. At the the­o­ret­i­cal level, Bentham de­fines an­other way of analysing the so­cial body and the power re­la­tions that tra­verse it; in terms of prac­tice, he de­fines-a pro­ce­dure of sub­or­di­na­tion of bod­ies and forces that must in­crease the util­ity of power while prac­tis­ing the econ­omy of the prince. Panopticism is the gen­eral prin­ci­ple of a new political anatomy” whose ob­ject and end are not the re­la­tions of sov­er­eignty but the re­la­tions of dis­ci­pline. The cel­e­brated, trans­par­ent, cir­cu­lar cage, with its high tow­ers pow­er­ful and know­ing, may have been for Bentham a pro­ject of per­fect dis­ci­pli­nary in­sti­tu­tion; but he also set out to show how one may unlock” the dis­ci­plines and get them to func­tion in a dif­fused, mul­ti­ple, poly­va­lent way through­out the whole so­cial body. These dis­ci­plines, which the clas­si­cal age had elab­o­rated in spe­cific, rel­a­tively en­closed places — bar­racks, schools, work­shops — and whose to­tal im­ple­men­ta­tion had been imag­ined only at the lim­ited and tem­po­rary scale of a plague-stricken town, Bentham dreamt of trans­form­ing into a net­work of mech­a­nisms that would be every­where and al­ways alert, run­ning through so­ci­ety with­out in­ter­rup­tion in space or in time. The panop­tic arrange­ment pro­vides the for­mula for this gen­er­al­iza­tion. It pro­grammes, at the level of an el­e­men­tary and eas­ily trans­fer­able mech­a­nism, the ba­sic func­tion­ing of a so­ci­ety pen­e­trated through and through with dis­ci­pli­nary mech­a­nisms.

There are two im­ages, then, of dis­ci­pline. At one ex­treme, the dis­ci­pline-block­ade, the en­closed in­sti­tu­tion, es­tab­lished on the edges of so­ci­ety, turned in­wards to­wards neg­a­tive func­tions: ar­rest­ing evil, break­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions, sus­pend­ing time. At the other ex­treme, with panop­ti­cism, is the dis­ci­pline-mech­a­nism: a func­tional mech­a­nism that must im­prove the ex­er­cise of power by mak­ing it lighter, more rapid, more ef­fec­tive, a de­sign of sub­tle co­er­cion for a so­ci­ety to come. The move­ment from one pro­ject to the other, from a schema of ex­cep­tional dis­ci­pline to one of a gen­er­al­ized sur­veil­lance, rests on a his­tor­i­cal trans­for­ma­tion: the grad­ual ex­ten­sion of the mech­a­nisms of dis­ci­pline through­out the sev­en­teenth and eigh­teenth cen­turies, their spread through­out the whole so­cial body, the for­ma­tion of what might be called in gen­eral the dis­ci­pli­nary so­ci­ety.

A whole dis­ci­pli­nary gen­er­al­iza­tion — the Benthamite physics of power rep­re­sents an ac­knowl­edge­ment of this — had op­er­ated through­out the clas­si­cal age. The spread of dis­ci­pli­nary in­sti­tu­tions, whose net­work was be­gin­ning to cover an ever larger sur­face and oc­cu­py­ing above all a less and less mar­ginal po­si­tion, tes­ti­fies to this: what was an islet, a priv­i­leged place, a cir­cum­stan­tial mea­sure, or a sin­gu­lar model, be­came a gen­eral for­mula; the reg­u­la­tions char­ac­ter­is­tic of the Protestant and pi­ous armies of William of Orange or of Gustavus Adolphus were trans­formed into reg­u­la­tions for all the armies of Europe; the model col­leges of the Jesuits, or the schools of Batencour or Demia, fol­low­ing the ex­am­ple set by Sturm, pro­vided the out­lines for the gen­eral forms of ed­u­ca­tional dis­ci­pline; the or­der­ing of the naval and mil­i­tary hos­pi­tals pro­vided the model for the en­tire re­or­ga­ni­za­tion of hos­pi­tals in the eigh­teenth cen­tury.

But this ex­ten­sion of the dis­ci­pli­nary in­sti­tu­tions was no doubt only the most vis­i­ble as­pect of var­i­ous, more pro­found processes.

1. The func­tional in­ver­sion of the dis­ci­plines. At first, they were ex­pected to neu­tral­ize dan­gers, to fix use­less or dis­turbed pop­u­la­tions, to avoid the in­con­ve­niences of over-large as­sem­blies; now they were be­ing asked to play a pos­i­tive role, for they were be­com­ing able to do so, to in­crease the pos­si­ble util­ity of in­di­vid­u­als. Military dis­ci­pline is no longer a mere means of pre­vent­ing loot­ing, de­ser­tion or fail­ure to obey or­ders among the troops; it has be­come a ba­sic tech­nique to en­able the army to ex­ist, not as an as­sem­bled crowd, but as a unity that de­rives from this very unity an in­crease in its forces; dis­ci­pline in­creases the skill of each in­di­vid­ual, co­or­di­nates these skills, ac­cel­er­ates move­ments, in­creases fire power, broad­ens the fronts of at­tack with­out re­duc­ing their vigour, in­creases the ca­pac­ity for re­sis­tance, etc. The dis­ci­pline of the work­shop, while re­main­ing a way of en­forc­ing re­spect for the reg­u­la­tions and au­thor­i­ties, of pre­vent­ing thefts or losses, tends to in­crease ap­ti­tudes, speeds, out­put and there­fore prof­its; it still ex­erts a moral in­flu­ence over be­hav­iour, but more and more it treats ac­tions in terms of their re­sults, in­tro­duces bod­ies into a ma­chin­ery, forces into an econ­omy. When, in the sev­en­teenth cen­tury, the provin­cial schools or the Christian el­e­men­tary schools were founded, the jus­ti­fi­ca­tions given for them were above all neg­a­tive: those poor who were un­able to bring up their chil­dren left them in ig­no­rance of their oblig­a­tions: given the dif­fi­cul­ties they have in earn­ing a liv­ing, and them­selves hav­ing been badly brought up, they are un­able to com­mu­ni­cate a sound up­bring­ing that they them­selves never had”; this in­volves three ma­jor in­con­ve­niences: ig­no­rance of God, idle­ness (with its con­se­quent drunk­en­ness, im­pu­rity, lar­ceny, brig­andage); and the for­ma­tion of those gangs of beg­gars, al­ways ready to stir up pub­lic dis­or­der and virtually to ex­haust the funds of the Hotel-Dieu” (Demia, 60-61). Now, at the be­gin­ning of the Revolution, the end laid down for pri­mary ed­u­ca­tion was to be, among other things, to fortify”, to develop the body”, to pre­pare the child for a fu­ture in some me­chan­i­cal work”, to give him an ob­ser­vant eye, a sure hand and prompt habits” (Talleyrand’s Report to the Constituent Assembly, 10 September 1791, quoted by Leon, 106). The dis­ci­plines func­tion in­creas­ingly as tech­niques for mak­ing use­ful in­di­vid­u­als. Hence their emer­gence from a mar­ginal po­si­tion on the con­fines of so­ci­ety, and de­tach­ment from the forms of ex­clu­sion or ex­pi­a­tion, con­fine­ment or re­treat. Hence the slow loos­en­ing of their kin­ship with re­li­gious reg­u­lar­i­ties and en­clo­sures. Hence also their root­ing in the most im­por­tant, most cen­tral and most pro­duc­tive sec­tors of so­ci­ety. They be­come at­tached to some of the great es­sen­tial func­tions: fac­tory pro­duc­tion,~the trans­mis­sion of knowl­edge, the dif­fu­sion of ap­ti­tudes and skills, the war-ma­chine. Hence, too, the dou­ble ten­dency one sees de­vel­op­ing through­out the eigh­teenth cen­tury to in­crease the num­ber of dis­ci­pli­nary in­sti­tu­tions and to dis­ci­pline the ex­ist­ing ap­pa­ra­tuses.

2. The swarm­ing of dis­ci­pli­nary mech­a­nisms. While, on the one hand, the dis­ci­pli­nary es­tab­lish­ments in­crease, their mech­a­nisms have a cer­tain ten­dency to be­come de-institutionalized”, to emerge from the closed fortresses in which they once func­tioned and to cir­cu­late in a free” state; the mas­sive, com­pact dis­ci­plines are bro­ken down into flex­i­ble meth­ods of con­trol, which may be trans­ferred and adapted. Sometimes the closed ap­pa­ra­tuses add to their in­ter­nal and spe­cific func­tion a role of ex­ter­nal sur­veil­lance, de­vel­op­ing around them­selves a whole mar­gin of lat­eral con­trols. Thus the Christian School must not sim­ply train docile chil­dren; it must also make it pos­si­ble to su­per­vise the par­ents, to gain in­for­ma­tion as to their way of life, their re­sources, their piety, their morals. The school tends to con­sti­tute minute so­cial ob­ser­va­to­ries that pen­e­trate even to the adults and ex­er­cise reg­u­lar su­per­vi­sion over them: the bad be­hav­iour of the child, or his ab­sence, is a le­git­i­mate pre­text, ac­cord­ing to Demia, for one to go and ques­tion the neigh­bours, es­pe­cially if there is any rea­son to be­lieve that the fam­ily will not tell the truth; one can then go and ques­tion the par­ents them­selves, to find out whether they know their cat­e­chism and the prayers, whether they are de­ter­mined to root out the vices of their chil­dren, how many beds there are in the house and what the sleep­ing arrange­ments are; the visit may end with the giv­ing of alms, the pre­sent of a re­li­gious pic­ture, or the pro­vi­sion of ad­di­tional beds (Demia, 39-40). Similarly, the hos­pi­tal is in­creas­ingly con­ceived of as a base for the med­ical ob­ser­va­tion of the pop­u­la­tion out­side; af­ter the burn­ing down of the Hotel-Dieu in 1772, there were sev­eral de­mands that the large build­ings, so heavy and so dis­or­dered, should be re­placed by a se­ries of smaller hos­pi­tals; their func­tion would be to take in the sick of the quar­ter, but also to gather in­for­ma­tion, to be alert to any en­demic or epi­demic phe­nom­ena, to open dis­pen­saries, to give ad­vice to the in­hab­i­tants and to keep the au­thor­i­ties in­formed ,of the san­i­tary state of the re­gion.

One also sees the spread of dis­ci­pli­nary pro­ce­dures, not in the form of en­closed in­sti­tu­tions, but as cen­tres of ob­ser­va­tion dis­sem­i­nated through­out so­ci­ety. Religious groups and char­ity or­ga­ni­za­tions had long played this role of disciplining” the pop­u­la­tion. From the Counter-Reformation to the phil­an­thropy of the July monar­chy, ini­tia­tives of this type con­tin­ued to in­crease; their aims were re­li­gious (conversion and mor­al­iza­tion), eco­nomic (aid and en­cour­age­ment to work) or po­lit­i­cal (the strug­gle against dis­con­tent or ag­i­ta­tion). One has only to cite by way of ex­am­ple the reg­u­la­tions for the char­ity as­so­ci­a­tions in the Paris parishes. The ter­ri­tory to be cov­ered was di­vided into quar­ters and can­tons and the mem­bers of the as­so­ci­a­tions di­vided them­selves up along the same lines. These mem­bers had to visit their re­spec­tive ar­eas reg­u­larly. They will strive to erad­i­cate places of ill-re­pute, to­bacco shops, life-classes, gam­ing house, pub­lic scan­dals, blas­phemy, impi­ety, and any other dis­or­ders that may come to their knowl­edge.” They will also have to make in­di­vid­ual vis­its to the poor; and the in­for­ma­tion to be ob­tained is laid down in reg­u­la­tions: the sta­bil­ity of the lodg­ing, knowl­edge of prayers, at­ten­dance at the sacra­ments, knowl­edge of a trade, moral­ity (and whether they have not fallen into poverty through their own fault”); lastly, one must learn by skil­ful ques­tion­ing in what way they be­have at home. Whether there is peace be­tween them and their neigh­bours, whether they are care­ful to bring up their chil­dren in the fear of God . . . whether they do not have their older chil­dren of dif­fer­ent sexes sleep­ing to­gether and with them, whether they do not al­low li­cen­tious­ness and ca­jol­ery in their fam­i­lies, es­pe­cially in their older daugh­ters. If one has any doubts as to whether they are mar­ried, one must ask to see their mar­riage cer­tifi­cate”.

3. The state-con­trol of the mech­a­nisms of dis­ci­pline. In England, it was pri­vate re­li­gious groups that car­ried out, for a long time, the func­tions of so­cial dis­ci­pline (cf. Radzinovitz, 203-14); in France, al­though a part of this role re­mained in the hands of parish guilds or char­ity as­so­ci­a­tions, an­other — and no doubt the most im­por­tant part— was very soon taken over by the po­lice ap­pa­ra­tus.

The or­ga­ni­za­tion of a cen­tral­ized po­lice had long been re­garded, even by con­tem­po­raries, as the most di­rect ex­pres­sion of ab­so­lutism; the sov­er­eign had wished to have his own mag­is­trate to whom he might di­rectly en­trust his or­ders, his com­mis­sions, in­ten­tions, and who was en­trusted with the ex­e­cu­tion of or­ders and or­ders un­der the King’s pri­vate seal” (a note by Duval, first sec­re­tary at the po­lice mag­i­s­tra­ture, quoted in Funck-Brentano, 1). In ef­fect, in tak­ing over a num­ber of pre-ex­ist­ing func­tions — the search for crim­i­nals, ur­ban sur­veil­lance, eco­nomic and po­lit­i­cal su­per­vi­sion the po­lice mag­i­s­tra­tures and the mag­i­s­tra­ture-gen­eral that presided over them in Paris trans­posed them into a sin­gle, strict, ad­min­is­tra­tive ma­chine: All the ra­di­a­tions of force and in­for­ma­tion that spread from the cir­cum­fer­ence cul­mi­nate in the mag­is­trate-gen­eral… It is he who op­er­ates all the wheels that to­gether pro­duce or­der and har­mony. The ef­fects of his ad­min­is­tra­tion can­not be bet­ter com­pared than to the move­ment of the ce­les­tial bod­ies” (Des Essarts, 344 and 528).

But, al­though the po­lice as an in­sti­tu­tion were cer­tainly or­ga­nized in the form of a state ap­pa­ra­tus, and al­though this was cer­tainly linked di­rectly to the cen­tre of po­lit­i­cal sov­er­eignty, the type of power that it ex­er­cises, the mech­a­nisms it op­er­ates and the el­e­ments to which it ap­plies them are spe­cific. It is an ap­pa­ra­tus that must be co­ex­ten­sive with the en­tire so­cial body_and not only by the ex­treme lim­its that it em­braces, but by the minute­ness of the de­tails it is con­cerned with. Police power must bear over every­thing”: it is not how­ever the to­tal­ity of the state nor of the king­dom as vis­i­ble and in­vis­i­ble body of the monarch; it is the dust of events, ac­tions, be­hav­iour, opin­ions — everything that hap­pens”; the po­lice are con­cerned with those things of every mo­ment”, those unimportant things”, of which Catherine II spoke in her Great Instruction (Supplement to the Instruction for the draw­ing up of a new code, 1769, ar­ti­cle 535). With the po­lice, one is in the in­def­i­nite world of a su­per­vi­sion that seeks ide­ally to reach the most el­e­men­tary par­ti­cle, the most pass­ing phe­nom­e­non of the so­cial body: The min­istry of the mag­is­trates and po­lice of­fi­cers is of the great­est im­por­tance; the ob­jects that it em­braces are in a sense def­i­nite, one may per­ceive them only by a suf­fi­ciently de­tailed ex­am­i­na­tion” (Delamare, un­num­bered Preface): the in­fi­nitely small of po­lit­i­cal power.

And, in or­der to be ex­er­cised, this power had to be given the in­stru­ment of per­ma­nent, ex­haus­tive, om­nipresent sur­veil­lance, ca­pa­ble of mak­ing all vis­i­ble, as long as it could it­self re­main in­vis­i­ble. It had to be like a face­less gaze that trans­formed the whole so­cial body into a field of per­cep­tion: thou­sands of eyes posted every­where, mo­bile at­ten­tions ever on the alert, a long, hi­er­ar­chized net­work which, ac­cord­ing to Le Maire, com­prised for Paris the forty-eight com­mis­saires, the twenty in­specteurs, then the observers”, who were paid reg­u­larly, the basses mouches”, or se­cret agents, who were paid by the day, then the in­form­ers, paid ac­cord­ing to the job done, and fi­nally the pros­ti­tutes. And this un­ceas­ing ob­ser­va­tion had to be ac­cu­mu­lated in a se­ries of re­ports and reg­is­ters; through­out the eigh­teenth cen­tury, an im­mense po­lice text in­creas­ingly cov­ered so­ci­ety by means of a com­plex doc­u­men­tary or­ga­ni­za­tion (on the po­lice reg­is­ters in the eigh­teenth cen­tury, cf. Chassaigne). And, un­like the meth­ods of ju­di­cial or ad­min­is­tra­tive writ­ing, what was reg­is­tered in this way were forms of be­hav­iour, at­ti­tudes, pos­si­bil­i­ties, sus­pi­cions — a per­ma­nent ac­count of in­di­vid­u­als’ be­hav­iour.

Now, it should be noted that, al­though this po­lice su­per­vi­sion was en­tirely in the hands of the king”, it did not func­tion in a sin­gle di­rec­tion. It was in fact a dou­ble-en­try sys­tem: it had to cor­re­spond, by ma­nip­u­lat­ing the ma­chin­ery of jus­tice, to the im­me­di­ate wishes of the king, but it was also ca­pa­ble of re­spond­ing to so­lic­i­ta­tions from be­low; the cel­e­brated let­tres de ca­chet, or or­ders un­der the king’s pri­vate seal, which were long the sym­bol of ar­bi­trary royal rule and which brought de­ten­tion into dis­re­pute on po­lit­i­cal grounds, were in fact de­manded by fam­i­lies, mas­ters, lo­cal no­ta­bles, neigh­bours, parish priests; and their func­tion was to pun­ish by con­fine­ment a whole in­fra-pe­nal­ity, that of dis­or­der, ag­i­ta­tion, dis­obe­di­ence, bad con­duct; those things that Ledoux wanted to ex­clude from his ar­chi­tec­turally per­fect city and which he called offences of non-sur­veil­lance”. In short, the eigh­teenth-cen­tury po­lice added a dis­ci­pli­nary func­tion to its role as the aux­il­iary of jus­tice in the pur­suit of crim­i­nals and as an in­stru­ment for the po­lit­i­cal su­per­vi­sion of plots, op­po­si­tion move­ments or re­volts. It was a com­plex func­tion since it linked the ab­solute power of the monarch to the low­est lev­els of power dis­sem­i­nated in so­ci­ety; since, be­tween these dif­fer­ent, en­closed in­sti­tu­tions of dis­ci­pline (workshops, armies, schools), it ex­tended an in­ter­me­di­ary net­work, act­ing where they could not in­ter­vene, dis­ci­plin­ing the non-dis­ci­pli­nary spaces; but it filled in the gaps, linked them to­gether, guar­an­teed with its armed force an in­ter­sti­tial dis­ci­pline and a meta-dis­ci­pline. By means of a wise po­lice, the sov­er­eign ac­cus­toms the peo­ple to or­der and obe­di­ence” (Vattel, 162).

The or­ga­ni­za­tion of the po­lice ap­pa­ra­tus in the eigh­teenth cen­tury sanc­tioned a gen­er­al­iza­tion of the dis­ci­plines that be­came co-ex­ten­sive with the state it­self. Although it was linked in the most ex­plicit way with every­thing in the royal power that ex­ceeded the ex­er­cise of reg­u­lar jus­tice, it is un­der­stand­able why the po­lice of­fered such slight re­sis­tance to the re­arrange­ment of the ju­di­cial power; and why it has not ceased to im­pose its pre­rog­a­tives upon it, with ever­in­creas­ing weight, right up to the pre­sent day; this is no doubt be­cause it is the sec­u­lar arm of the ju­di­ciary; but it is also be­cause to a far greater de­gree than the ju­di­cial in­sti­tu­tion, it is iden­ti­fied, by rea­son of its ex­tent and mech­a­nisms, with a so­ci­ety of the dis­ci­pli­nary type. Yet it would be wrong to be­lieve that the dis­ci­pli­nary func­tions were con­fis­cated and ab­sorbed once and for all by a state ap­pa­ra­tus.

Discipline” may be iden­ti­fied nei­ther with an in­sti­tu­tion nor with an ap­pa­ra­tus; it is a type of power, a modal­ity for its ex­er­cise, com­pris­ing a whole set of in­stru­ments, tech­niques, pro­ce­dures, lev­els of ap­pli­ca­tion, tar­gets; it is a physics” or an anatomy” of power, a tech­nol­ogy. And it may be taken over ei­ther by specialized” in­sti­tu­tions (the pen­i­ten­tiaries or houses of cor­rec­tion” of the nine­teenth cen­tury), or by in­sti­tu­tions that use it as an es­sen­tial in­stru­ment for a par­tic­u­lar end (schools, hos­pi­tals), or by pre-ex­ist­ing au­thor­i­ties that find in it a means of re­in­forc­ing or re­or­ga­niz­ing their in­ter­nal mech­a­nisms of power (one day we should show how in­tra-fa­mil­ial re­la­tions, es­sen­tially in the par­ents-chil­dren cell, have be­come disciplined”, ab­sorb­ing since the clas­si­cal age ex­ter­nal schemata, first ed­u­ca­tional and mil­i­tary, then med­ical, psy­chi­atric, psy­cho­log­i­cal, which have made the fam­ily the priv­i­leged lo­cus of emer­gence for the dis­ci­pli­nary ques­tion of the nor­mal and the ab­nor­mal); or by ap­pa­ra­tuses that have made dis­ci­pline their prin­ci­ple of in­ter­nal func­tion­ing (the dis­ci­pli­nar­iza­tion of the ad­min­is­tra­tive ap­pa­ra­tus from the Napoleonic pe­riod), or fi­nally by state ap­pa­ra­tuses whose ma­jor, if not ex­clu­sive, func­tion is to as­sure that dis­ci­pline reigns over so­ci­ety as a whole (the po­lice).

On the whole, there­fore, one can speak of the for­ma­tion of a dis­ci­pli­nary so­ci­ety in this move­ment that stretches from the en­closed dis­ci­plines, a sort of so­cial quarantine”, to an in­def­i­nitely gen­er­al­iz­able mech­a­nism of panopticism”. Not be­cause the dis­ci­pli­nary modal­ity of power has re­placed all the oth­ers; but be­cause it has in­fil­trated the oth­ers, some­times un­der­min­ing them, but serv­ing as an in­ter­me­di­ary be­tween them, link­ing them to­gether, ex­tend­ing them and above all mak­ing it pos­si­ble to bring the ef­fects of power to the most minute and dis­tant el­e­ments. It as­sures an in­fin­i­tes­i­mal dis­tri­b­u­tion of the power re­la­tions.

A few years af­ter Bentham, Julius gave this so­ci­ety its birth cer­tifi­cate (Julius, 384-6). Speaking of the panop­tic prin­ci­ple, he said that there was much more there than ar­chi­tec­tural in­ge­nu­ity: it was an event in the history of the hu­man mind”. In ap­pear­ance, it is merely the so­lu­tion of a tech­ni­cal prob­lem; but, through it, a whole type of so­ci­ety emerges. Antiquity had been a civ­i­liza­tion of spec­ta­cle. To ren­der ac­ces­si­ble to a mul­ti­tude of men the in­spec­tion of a small num­ber of ob­jects”: this was the prob­lem to which the ar­chi­tec­ture of tem­ples, the­atres and cir­cuses re­sponded. With spec­ta­cle, there was a pre­dom­i­nance of pub­lic life, the in­ten­sity of fes­ti­vals, sen­sual prox­im­ity. In these rit­u­als in which blood flowed, so­ci­ety found new vigour and formed for a mo­ment a sin­gle great body. The mod­ern age poses the op­po­site prob­lem: To pro­cure for a small num­ber, or even for a sin­gle in­di­vid­ual, the in­stan­ta­neous view of a great mul­ti­tude.” In a so­ci­ety in which the prin­ci­pal el­e­ments are no longer the com­mu­nity and pub­lic life, but, on the one hand, pri­vate in­di­vid­u­als and, on the other, the state, re­la­tions can be reg­u­lated only in a form that is the ex­act re­verse of the spec­ta­cle: It was to the mod­ern age, to the ever-grow­ing in­flu­ence of the state, to its ever more pro­found in­ter­ven­tion in all the de­tails and all the re­la­tions of so­cial life, that was re­served the task of in­creaS­ing and per­fect­ing its guar­an­tees, by us­ing and di­rect­ing to­wards that great aim the build­ing and dis­tri­b­u­tion of build­ings in­tended to ob­serve a great mul­ti­tude of men at the same time.”

Julius saw as a ful­filled his­tor­i­cal process that which Bentham had de­scribed as a tech­ni­cal pro­gramme. Our so­ci­ety is one not of spec­ta­cle, but of sur­veil­lance; un­der the sur­face of im­ages, one in­vests bod­ies in depth; be­hind the great ab­strac­tion of ex­change, there con­tin­ues the metic­u­lous, con­crete train­ing of use­ful forces; tbe cir­cuits of com­mu­ni­ca­tion are the sup­ports of an ac­cu­mu­la­tion and a cen­tral­iza­tion of knowl­edge; the play of signs de­fines the an­chor­ages of power; it is not that the beau­ti­ful to­tal­ity of the in­di­vid­ual is am­pu­tated, re­pressed, al­tered by our so­cial or­der, it is rather that the in­di­vid­ual is care­fully fab­ri­cated in it, ac­cord­ing to a whole tech­nique of forces and bod­ies. We are much less Greeks than we be­lieve. We are nei­ther in the am­phithe­atre, nor on the stage, but in the panop­tic ma­chine, in­vested by its ef­fects of pow­er2 which we bring to our­selves since we are part of its mech­a­nism. The im­por­tance, in his­tor­i­cal mythol­ogy, of the Napoleonic char­ac­ter prob­a­bly de­rives from the fact that it is at the point of junc­tion of the monar­chi­cal, rit­ual ex­er­cise of sov­er­eignty and the hi­er­ar­chi­cal, per­ma­nent ex­er­cise of in­def­i­nite dis­ci­pline. He is the in­di­vid­ual who looms over every­thing with a sin­gle gaze which no de­tail, how­ever minute, can es­cape: You may con­sider that no part of the Empire is with­out sur­veil­lance, no crime, no of­fence, no con­tra­ven­tion that re­mains un­pun­ished, and that the eye of the ge­nius who can en­lighten all em­braces the whole of this vast ma­chine, with­out, how­ever, the slight­est de­tail es­cap­ing his at­ten­tion” (Treilhard, 14). At the mo­ment of its full blos­som­ing, the dis­ci­pli­nary so­ci­ety still as­sumes with the Emperor the old as­pect of the power of spec­ta­cle. As a monarch who is at one and the same time a usurper of the an­cient throne and the or­ga­nizer of the new state, he com­bined into a sin­gle sym­bolic, ul­ti­mate fig­ure the whole of the long process by which the pomp of sov­er­eignty, the nec­es­sar­ily spec­tac­u­lar man­i­fes­ta­tions of power, were ex­tin­guished one by one in the daily ex­er­cise of sur­veil­lance, in a panop­ti­cism in which the vig­i­lance of in­ter­sect­ing gazes was soon to ren­der use­less both the ea­gle and the sun.

The for­ma­tion of the dis­ci­pli­nary so­ci­ety is con­nected with a num­ber of broad his­tor­i­cal processes — eco­nomic, ju­ridico-po­lit­i­cal and, lastly, sci­en­tific — of which it forms part.

1. Generally speak­ing, it might be said that the dis­ci­plines are tech­niques for as­sur­ing the or­der­ing of hu­man mul­ti­plic­i­ties. It is true that there is noth­ing ex­cep­tional or even char­ac­ter­is­tic in this; every sys­tem of power is pre­sented with the same prob­lem. But the pe­cu­liar­ity of the dis­ci­plines is that they try to de­fine in re­la­tion to the mul­ti­plic­i­ties a tac­tics of power that ful­fils three cri­te­ria: firstly, to ob­tain the ex­er­cise of power at the low­est pos­si­ble cost (economically, by the low ex­pen­di­ture it in­volves; po­lit­i­cally, by its dis­cre­tion, its low ex­te­ri­or­iza­tion, its rel­a­tive in­vis­i­bil­ity, the lit­tle re­sis­tance it arouses); sec­ondly, to bring the ef­fects of this so­cial power to their max­i­mum in­ten­sity and to ex­tend them as far as pos­si­ble, with­out ei­ther fail­ure or in­ter­val; thirdly, to link this economic” growth of power with the out­put of the ap­pa­ra­tuses (educational, mil­i­tary, in­dus­trial or med­ical) within which it is ex­er­cised; in short, to in­crease both the docil­ity and the util­ity of all the el­e­ments of the sys­tem. This triple ob­jec­tive of the dis­ci­plines cor­re­sponds to a well-known his­tor­i­cal con­junc­ture. One as­pect of this con­junc­ture was the large de­mo­graphic thrust of the eigh­teenth cen­tury; an in­crease in the float­ing pop­u­la­tion (one of the pri­mary ob­jects of dis­ci­pline is to fix; it is an anti-no­madic tech­nique); a change of quan­ti­ta­tive scale in the groups to be su­per­vised or ma­nip­u­lated (from the be­gin­ning of the sev­en­teenth cen­tury to the eve of the French Revolution, the school pop­u­la­tion had been in­creas­ing rapidly, as had no doubt the hos­pi­tal pop­u­la­tion; by the end of the eigh­teenth cen­tury, the peace-time army ex­ceeded 200,000 men). The other as­pect of the con­junc­ture was the growth in the ap­pa­ra­tus of pro­duc­tion, which was be­com­ing more and more ex­tended and com­plex, it was also be­com­ing more costly and its prof­itabil­ity had to be in­creased. The de­vel­op­ment of the dis­ci­pli­nary meth­ods cor­re­sponded to these two processes, or rather, no doubt, to the new need to ad­just their cor­re­la­tion. Neither the resid­ual forms of feu­dal power nor the struc­tures of the ad­min­is­tra­tive monar­chy, nor the lo­cal mech­a­nisms of su­per­vi­sion, nor the un­sta­ble, tan­gled mass they all formed to­gether could carry out this role: they were hin­dered from do­ing so by the ir­reg­u­lar and in­ad­e­quate ex­ten­sion of their net­work, by their of­ten con­flict­ing func­tion­ing, but above all by the costly” na­ture of the power that was ex­er­cised in them. It was costly in sev­eral senses: be­cause di­rectly it cost a great deal to the Treasury; be­cause the sys­tem of cor­rupt of­fices and farmed-out taxes weighed in­di­rectly, but very heav­ily, on the pop­u­la­tion; be­cause the re­sis­tance it en­coun­tered forced it into a cy­cle of per­pet­ual re­in­force­ment; be­cause it pro­ceeded es­sen­tially by levy­ing (levying on money or prod­ucts by royal, seignio­r­ial, ec­cle­si­as­ti­cal tax­a­tion; levy­ing on men or time by corvées of press-gang­ing, by lock­ing up or ban­ish­ing vagabonds). The de­vel­op­ment of the dis­ci­plines marks the ap­pear­ance of el­e­men­tary tech­niques be­long­ing to a quite dif­fer­ent econ­omy: mech­a­nisms of power which, in­stead of pro­ceed­ing by de­duc­tion, are in­te­grated into the pro­duc­tive ef­fi­ciency of the ap­pa­ra­tuses from within, into the growth of this ef­fi­ciency and into the use of what it pro­duces. For the old prin­ci­ple of levying-violence”, which gov­erned the econ­omy of power, the dis­ci­plines sub­sti­tute the prin­ci­ple of mildness-production-profit”. These are the tech­niques that make it pos­si­ble to ad­just the mul­ti­plic­ity of men and the mul­ti­pli­ca­tion of the ap­pa­ra­tuses of pro­duc­tion (and this means not only production” in the strict sense, but also the pro­duc­tion of knowl­edge and skills in the school, the pro­duc­tion of health in the hos­pi­tals, the pro­duc­tion of de­struc­tive force in the army).

In this task of ad­just­ment, dis­ci­pline had to solve a num­ber of prob­lems for which the old econ­omy of power was not suf­fi­ciently equipped. It could re­duce the in­ef­fi­ciency of mass phe­nom­ena: re­duce what, in a mul­ti­plic­ity, makes it much less man­age­able than a unity; re­duce what is op­posed to the use of each of its el­e­ments and of their sum; re­duce every­thing that may counter the ad­van­tages of num­ber. That is why dis­ci­pline fixes; it ar­rests or reg­u­lates move­ments; it clears up con­fu­sion; it dis­si­pates com­pact group­ings of in­di­vid­u­als wan­der­ing about the coun­try in un­pre­dictable ways; it es­tab­lishes cal­cu­lated dis­tri­b­u­tions. It must also mas­ter all the forces that are formed from the very con­sti­tu­tion of an or­ga­nized mul­ti­plic­ity; it must neu­tral­ize the ef­fects of counter-power that spring from them and which form a re­sis­tance to the power that wishes to dom­i­nate it: ag­i­ta­tions, re­volts, spon­ta­neous or­ga­ni­za­tions, coali­tions — any­thing that may es­tab­lish hor­i­zon­tal con­junc­tions. Hence the fact that the dis­ci­plines use pro­ce­dures of par­ti­tion­ing and ver­ti­cal­ity, that they in­tro­duce, be­tween the dif­fer­ent el­e­ments at the same level, as solid sep­a­ra­tions as pos­si­ble, that they de­fine com­pact hi­er­ar­chi­cal net­works, in short, that they op­pose to the in­trin­sic, ad­verse force of mul­ti­plic­ity the tech­nique of the con­tin­u­ous, in­di­vid­u­al­iz­ing pyra­mid. They must also in­crease the par­tic­u­lar util­ity of each el­e­ment of the mul­ti­plic­ity, but by means that are the most rapid and the least costly, that is to say, by us­ing the mul­ti­plic­ity it­self as an in­stru­ment of this growth. Hence, in or­der to ex­tract from bod­ies the max­i­mum time and force, the use of those over­all meth­ods known as time-ta­bles, col­lec­tive train­ing, ex­er­cises, to­tal and de­tailed sur­veil­lance. Furthermore, the dis­ci­plines must in­crease the ef­fect of util­ity proper to the mul­ti­plic­i­ties, so that each is made more use­ful than the sim­ple sum of its el­e­ments: it is in or­der to in­crease the uti­liz­able ef­fects of the mul­ti­ple that the dis­ci­plines de­fine tac­tics of dis­tri­b­u­tion, rec­i­p­ro­cal ad­just­ment of bod­ies, ges­tures and rhythms, dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion of ca­pac­i­ties, rec­i­p­ro­cal co­or­di­na­tion in re­la­tion to ap­pa­ra­tuses or tasks. Lastly, the dis­ci­plines have to bring into play the power re­la­tions, not above but in­side the very tex­ture of the mul­ti­plic­ity, as dis­creetly as pos­si­ble, as well ar­tic­u­lated on the other func­tions of these mul­ti­plic­i­ties and also in the least ex­pen­sive way pos­si­ble: to this cor­re­spond anony­mous in­stru­ments of power, co­ex­ten­sive with the mul­ti­plic­ity that they reg­i­ment, such as hi­er­ar­chi­cal sur­veil­lance, con­tin­u­ous reg­is­tra­tion, per­pet­ual as­sess­ment and clas­si­fi­ca­tion. In short, to sub­sti­tute for a power that is man­i­fested through the bril­liance of those who ex­er­cise it, a power that in­sid­i­ously ob­jec­ti­fies those on whom it is ap­plied; to form a body of knowl­edge about these in­di­vid­u­als, rather than to de­ploy the os­ten­ta­tious signs of sov­er­eignty. In a word, the dis­ci­plines are the en­sem­ble of minute tech­ni­cal in­ven­tions that made it pos­si­ble to in­crease the use­ful size of mul­ti­plic­i­ties by de­creas­ing the in­con­ve­niences of the power which, in or­der to make them use­ful, must con­trol them. A mul­ti­plic­ity, whether in a work­shop or a na­tion, an army or a school, reaches the thresh­old of a dis­ci­pline when the re­la­tion of the one to the other be­comes favourable.

If the eco­nomic take-off of the West be­gan with the tech­niques that made pos­si­ble the ac­cu­mu­la­tion of cap­i­tal, it might per­haps be said that the meth­ods for ad­min­is­ter­ing the ac­cu­mu­la­tion of men 220 Panopticism made pos­si­ble a po­lit­i­cal take-off in re­la­tion to the tra­di­tional, rit­ual, costly, vi­o­lent forms of power, which soon fell into dis­use and were su­per­seded by a sub­tle, cal­cu­lated tech­nol­ogy of sub­jec­tion. In fact, the two processes — the ac­cu­mu­la­tion of men and the ac­cu­mu­la­tion of cap­i­tal — can­not be sep­a­rated; it would not have been pos­si­ble to solve the prob­lem of the ac­cu­mu­la­tion of men with­out the growth of an ap­pa­ra­tus of pro­duc­tion ca­pa­ble of both sus­tain­ing them and us­ing them; con­versely, the tech­niques that made the cu­mu­la­tive rnultiplicity of men use­ful ac­cel­er­ated the ac­cu­mu­la­tion of cap­i­tal. At a less gen­eral level, the tech­no­log­i­cal mu­ta­tions of the ap­pa­ra­tus of pro­duc­tion, the di­vi­sion of labour and the elab­o­ra­tion of the dis­ci­pli­nary tech­niques sus­tained an en­sem­ble of very close re­la­tions (cf. Marx, Capital, vol. 1, chap­ter XIII and the very in­ter­est­ing analy­sis in Guerry and Deleule). Each makes the other pos­si­ble and nec­es­sary; each pro­vides a model for the other. The dis­ci­pli­nary pyra­mid con­sti­tuted the small cell of power within which the sep­a­ra­tion, co­or­di­na­tion and su­per­vi­sion of tasks was im­posed and made ef­fi­cient; and an­a­lyt­i­cal par­ti­tion­ing of time, ges­tures and bod­ily forces con­sti­tuted an op­er­a­tional schema that could eas­ily be trans­ferred from the groups to be sub­jected to the mech­a­nisms of pro­duc­tion; the mas­sive pro­jec­tion of mil­i­tary meth­ods onto in­dus­trial or­ga­ni­za­tion was an ex­am­ple of this mod­el­ling of the di­vi­sion of labour fol­low­ing the model laid down by the schemata of power. But, on the other hand, the tech­ni­cal analy­sis of the process of pro­duc­tion, its me­chan­i­cal break­ing-down, were pro­jected onto the labour force whose task it was to im­ple­ment it: the con­sti­tu­tion of those dis­ci­pli­nary ma­chines in which the in­di­vid­ual forces that they bring to­gether are com­posed into a whole and there­fore in­creased is the ef­fect of this pro­jec­tion. Let us say that dis­ci­pline is the uni­tary tech­nique by which the body is re­duced as a political” force at the least cost and max­i­mized as a use­ful force. The growth of a cap­i­tal­ist econ­omy gave rise to the spe­cific modal­ity of dis­ci­pli­nary power whose gen­eral for­mu­las, tech­niques of sub­mit­ting forces and bod­ies, in short, political anatomy”, could be op­er­ated in the most di­verse po­lit­i­cal regimes, ap­pa­ra­tuses or in­sti­tu­tions.

2. The panop­tic modal­ity of power — at the el­e­men­tary, tech­ni­cal, merely phys­i­cal level at which it is sit­u­ated — is not un­der the im­me­di­ate de­pen­dence or a di­rect ex­ten­sion of the great ju­ridico-po­lit­i­cal struc­tures of a so­ci­ety; it is nonethe­less not ab­solutely in­de­pen­dent. Historically, the process by which the bour­geoisie be­came in the course of the eigh­teenth cen­tury the po­lit­i­cally dom­i­nant class was masked by the es­tab­lish­ment of an ex­plicit, coded and for­mally egal­i­tar­ian ju­ridi­cal frame­work, made pos­si­ble by the or­ga­ni­za­tion of a par­lia­men­tary, rep­re­sen­ta­tive regime. But the de­vel­op­ment and gen­er­al­iza­tion of dis­ci­pli­nary mech­a­nisms con­sti­tuted the other, dark side of these processes. The gen­eral ju­ridi­cal form that guar­an­teed a sys­tem of rights that were egal­i­tar­ian in prin­ci­ple was sup­ported by these tiny, every­day, phys­i­cal mech­a­nisms, by all those sys­tems of mi­cro-power that are es­sen­tially non-egal­i­tar­ian and asym­met­ri­cal that we call the dis­ci­plines. And al­though, in a for­mal way, the rep­re­sen­ta­tive regime makes it pos­si­ble, di­rectly or in­di­rectly, with or with­out re­lays, for the will of all to form the fun­da­men­tal au­thor­ity of sov­er­eignty, the dis­ci­plines pro­vide, at the base, a guar­an­tee of the sub­mis­sion of forces and bod­ies. The real, cor­po­ral dis­ci­plines con­sti­tuted the foun­da­tion of the for­mal, ju­ridi­cal lib­er­ties. The con­tract may have been re­garded as the ideal foun­da­tion of law and po­lit­i­cal power; panop­ti­cism con­sti­tuted the tech­nique, uni­ver­sally wide­spread, of co­er­cion. It con­tin­ued to work in depth on the ju­ridi­cal struc­tures of so­ci­ety, in or­der to make the ef­fec­tive mech­a­nisms of power func­tion in op­po­si­tion to the for­mal frame­work that it had ac­quired. The Enlightenment”, which dis­cov­ered the lib­er­ties, also in­vented the dis­ci­plines.

In ap­pear­ance, the dis­ci­plines con­sti­tute noth­ing more than an in­fra-law. They seem to ex­tend the gen­eral forms de­fined by law to the in­fin­i­tes­i­mal level of in­di­vid­ual lives; or they ap­pear as meth­ods of train­ing that en­able in­di­vid­u­als to be­come in­te­grated into these gen­eral de­mands. They seem to con­sti­tute the same type of law on a dif­fer­ent scale, thereby mak­ing it more metic­u­lous and more in­dul­gent. The dis­ci­plines should be re­garded as a sort of counter-law They have the pre­cise role of in­tro­duc­ing in­su­per­a­ble asym­me­tries and ex­clud­ing rec­i­proc­i­ties. First, be­cause dis­ci­pline cre­ates be­tween in­di­vid­u­als a private” link, which is a re­la­tion of con­straints en­tirely dif­fer­ent from con­trac­tual oblig­a­tion; the ac­cep­tance of a dis­ci­pline may be un­der­writ­ten by con­tract; the way in which it is im­posed, the mech­a­nisms it brings into play, the non-re­versible sub­or­di­na­tion of one group of peo­ple by an­other, the surplus” power that is al­ways fixed on the same side, the in­equal­ity of po­si­tion of the dif­fer­ent partners” in re­la­tion to the com­mon reg­u­la­tion, all these dis­tin­guish the dis­ci­pli­nary link from the con­trac­tual link, and make it pos­si­ble to dis­tort the con­trac­tual link sys­tem­at­i­cally from the mo­ment it has as its con­tent a mech­a­nism of dis­ci­pline. We know, for ex­am­ple, how many real pro­ce­dures un­der­mine the le­gal fic­tion of the work con­tract: work­shop dis­ci­pline is not the least im­por­tant. Moreover, whereas the ju­ridi­cal sys­tems de­fine ju­ridi­cal sub­jects ac­cord­ing to uni­ver­sal norms, the dis­ci­plines char­ac­ter­ize, clas­sify, spe­cial­ize; they dis­trib­ute along a scale, around a norm, hi­er­ar­chize in­di­vid­u­als in re­la­tion to one an­other and, if nec­es­sary, dis­qual­ify and in­val­i­date. In any case, in the space and dur­ing the time in which they ex­er­cise their con­trol and bring into play the asym­me­tries of their power, they ef­fect a sus­pen­sion of the law that is never to­tal, but is never an­nulled ei­ther. Regular and in­sti­tu­tional as it may be, the dis­ci­pline, in its mech­a­nism, is a counter-law”. And, al­though the uni­ver­sal ju­ridi­cism of mod­ern so­ci­ety seems to fix lim­its on the ex­er­cise of power, its uni­ver­sally wide­spread panop­ti­cism en­ables it to op­er­ate, on the un­der­side of the law, a ma­chin­ery that is both im­mense and minute, which sup­ports, re­in­forces, mul­ti­plies the asym­me­try of power and un­der­mines the lim­its that are traced around the law. The minute dis­ci­plines, the panop­ti­cisms of every day may well be be­low the level of emer­gence of the great ap­pa­ra­tuses and the great po­lit­i­cal strug­gles. But, in the ge­neal­ogy of mod­ern so­ci­ety, they have been, with the class dom­i­na­tion that tra­verses it, the po­lit­i­cal coun­ter­part of the ju­ridi­cal norms ac­cord­ing to which power was re­dis­trib­uted. Hence, no doubt, the im­por­tance that has been given for so long to the small tech­niques of dis­ci­pline, to those ap­par­ently in­signif­i­cant tricks that it has in­vented, and even to those sciences” that give it a re­spectable face; hence the fear of aban­don­ing them if one can­not find any sub­sti­tute; hence the af­fir­ma­tion that they are at the very foun­da­tion of so­ci­ety, and an el­e­ment in its equi­lib­rium, whereas they are a se­ries of mech­a­nisms for un­bal­anc­ing power re­la­tions de­fin­i­tively and every­where; hence the per­sis­tence in re­gard­ing them as the hum­ble, but con­crete form of every moral­ity, whereas they are a set of physico-po­lit­i­cal tech­niques.

To re­turn to the prob­lem of le­gal pun­ish­ments, the prison with all the cor­rec­tive tech­nol­ogy at its dis­posal is to be re­si­t­u­ated at the point where the cod­i­fied power to pun­ish turns into a dis­ci­pli­nary power to ob­serve; at the point where the uni­ver­sal pun­ish­ments of the law are ap­plied se­lec­tively to cer­tain in­di­vid­u­als and al­ways the same ones; at the point where the re­de­f­i­n­i­tion of the ju­ridi­cal sub­ject by the penalty be­comes a use­ful train­ing of the crim­i­nal; at the point where the law is in­verted and passes out­side it­self, and where the counter-law be­comes the ef­fec­tive and in­sti­tu­tion­al­ized con­tent of the ju­ridi­cal forms. What gen­er­al­izes the power to pun­ish, then, is not the uni­ver­sal con­scious­ness of the law in each ju­ridi­cal sub­ject; it is the reg­u­lar ex­ten­sion, the in­fi­nitely minute web of panop­tic tech­niques.

3. Taken one by one, most of these tech­niques have a long his­tory be­hind them. But what was new, in the eigh­teenth cen­tury, was that, by be­ing com­bined and gen­er­al­ized, they at­tained a level at which the for­ma­tion of knowl­edge and the in­crease of power reg­u­larly re­in­force one an­other in a cir­cu­lar process. At this point, the dis­ci­plines crossed the technological” thresh­old. First the hos­pi­tal, then the school, then, later, the work­shop were not sim­ply reordered” by the dis­ci­plines; they be­came, thanks to them, ap­pa­ra­tuses such that any mech­a­nism of ob­jec­ti­fi­ca­tion could be used in them as an in­stru­ment of sub­jec­tion, and any growth of power could give rise in them to pos­si­ble branches of knowl­edge; it was this link, proper to the tech­no­log­i­cal sys­tems, that made pos­si­ble within the dis­ci­pli­nary el­e­ment the for­ma­tion of clin­i­cal med­i­cine, psy­chi­a­try, child psy­chol­ogy, ed­u­ca­tional psy­chol­ogy, the ra­tio­nal­iza­tion of labour. It is a dou­ble process, then: an epis­te­mo­log­i­cal thaw” through a re­fine­ment of power re­la­tions; a mul­ti­pli­ca­tion of the ef­fects of power through the for­ma­tion and ac­cu­mu­la­tion of new forms of knowl­edge.

The ex­ten­sion of the dis­ci­pli­nary meth­ods is in­scribed in a broad his­tor­i­cal process: the de­vel­op­ment at about the same time of many other tech­nolo­gies — agro­nom­i­cal, in­dus­trial, eco­nomic. But it must be rec­og­nized that, com­pared with the min­ing in­dus­tries, the emerg­ing chem­i­cal in­dus­tries or meth­ods of na­tional ac­coun­tancy, com­pared with the blast fur­naces or the steam en­gine, panop­ti­cism has re­ceived lit­tle at­ten­tion. It is re­garded as not much more than a bizarre lit­tle utopia, a per­verse dream — rather as though Bentham had been the Fourier of a po­lice so­ci­ety, and the Phalanstery had taken on the form of the Panopticon. And yet this rep­re­sented the ab­stract for­mula of a very real tech­nol­ogy, that of in­di­vid­u­als. There were many rea­sons why it re­ceived lit­tle praise; the most ob­vi­ous is that the dis­courses to which it gave rise rarely ac­quired, ex­cept in the aca­d­e­mic clas­si­fi­ca­tions, the sta­tus of sci­ences; but the real rea­son is no doubt that the power that it op­er­ates and which it aug­ments is a di­rect, phys­i­cal power that men ex­er­cise upon one an­other. An in­glo­ri­ous cul­mi­na­tion had an ori­gin that could be only grudg­ingly ac­knowl­edged. But it would be un­just to com­pare the dis­ci­pli­nary tech­niques with such in­ven­tions as the steam en­gine or Amici’s mi­cro­scope. They are much less; and yet, in a way, they are much more. If a his­tor­i­cal equiv­a­lent or at least a point of com­par­i­son had to be found for them, it would be rather in the in­quisi­to­r­ial tech­nique.

The eigh­teenth cen­tury in­vented the tech­niques of dis­ci­pline and the ex­am­i­na­tion, rather as the Middle Ages in­vented the ju­di­cial in­ves­ti­ga­tion. But it did so by quite dif­fer­ent means. The in­ves­ti­ga­tion pro­ce­dure, an old fis­cal and ad­min­is­tra­tive tech­nique, had de­vel­oped above all with the re­or­ga­ni­za­tion of the Church and the in­crease of the princely states in the twelfth and thir­teenth cen­turies. At this time it per­me­ated to a very large de­gree the ju­rispru­dence first of the ec­cle­si­as­ti­cal courts, then of the lay courts. The in­ves­ti­ga­tion as an au­thor­i­tar­ian search for a truth ob­served or at­tested was thus op­posed to the old pro­ce­dures of the oath, the or­deal, the ju­di­cial duel, the judge­ment of God or even of the trans­ac­tion be­tween pri­vate in­di­vid­u­als. The in­ves­ti­ga­tion was the sov­er­eign power ar­ro­gat­ing to it­self the right to es­tab­lish the truth by a num­ber of reg­u­lated tech­niques. Now, al­though the in­ves­ti­ga­tion has since then been an in­te­gral part of west­ern jus­tice (even up to our own day), one must not for­get ei­ther its po­lit­i­cal ori­gin, its link with the birth of the states and of monar­chi­cal sov­er­eignty, or its later ex­ten­sion and its role in the for­ma­tion of knowl­edge. In fact, the in­ves­ti­ga­tion has been the no doubt crude, but fun­da­men­tal el­e­ment in the con­sti­tu­tion of the em­pir­i­cal sci­ences; it has been the ju­ridico-po­lit­i­cal ma­trix of this ex­per­i­men­tal knowl­edge, which, as we know, was very rapidly re­leased at the end of the Middle Ages. It is per­haps true to say that, in Greece, math­e­mat­ics were born from tech­niques of mea­sure­ment; the sci­ences of na­ture, in any case, were born, to some ex­tent, at the end of the Middle Ages, from the prac­tices of in­ves­ti­ga­tion. The great em­pir­i­cal knowl­edge that cov­ered the things of the world and tran­scribed them into the or­der­ing of an in­def­i­nite dis­course that ob­serves, de­scribes and es­tab­lishes the facts” (at a time when the west­ern world was be­gin­ning the eco­nomic and po­lit­i­cal con­quest of this same world) had its op­er­at­ing model no doubt in the Inquisition — that im­mense in­ven­tion that our re­cent mild­ness has placed in the dark re­cesses of our mem­ory. But what this politico-ju­ridi­cal, ad­min­is­tra­tive and crim­i­nal, re­li­gious and lay, in­ves­ti­ga­tion was to the sci­ences of na­ture, dis­ci­pli­nary analy­sis has been to the sci­ences of man. These sci­ences, which have so de­lighted our humanity” for over a cen­tury, have their tech­ni­cal ma­trix in the petty, ma­li­cious minu­tiae of the dis­ci­plines and their in­ves­ti­ga­tions. These in­ves­ti­ga­tions are per­haps to psy­chol­ogy, psy­chi­a­try, ped­a­gogy, crim­i­nol­ogy, and so many other strange sci­ences, what the ter­ri­ble power of in­ves­ti­ga­tion was to the calm knowl­edge of the an­i­mals, the plants or the earth. Another power, an­other knowl­edge. On the thresh­old of the clas­si­cal age, Bacon, lawyer and states­man, tried to de­velop a method­ol­ogy of in­ves­ti­ga­tion for the em­pir­i­cal sci­ences. What Great Observer will pro­duce the method­ol­ogy of ex­am­i­na­tion for the hu­man sci­ences ? Unless, of course, such a thing is not pos­si­ble. For, al­though it is true that, in be­com­ing a tech­nique for the em­pir­i­cal sci­ences, the in­ves­ti­ga­tion has de­tached it­self from the in­quisi­to­r­ial pro­ce­dure, in which it was his­tor­i­cally rooted, the ex­am­i­na­tion has re­mained ex­tremely close to the dis­ci­pli­nary power that shaped it. It has al­ways been and still is an in­trin­sic el­e­ment of the dis­ci­plines. Of course it seems to have un­der­gone a spec­u­la­tive pu­rifi­ca­tion by in­te­grat­ing it­self with such sci­ences as psy­chol­ogy and psy­chi­a­try. And, in ef­fect, its ap­pear­ance in the form of tests, in­ter­views, in­ter­ro­ga­tions and con­sul­ta­tions is ap­par­ently in or­der to rec­tify the mech­a­nisms of dis­ci­pline: ed­u­ca­tional psy­chol­ogy is sup­posed to cor­rect the rigours of the school, just as the med­ical or psy­chi­atric in­ter­view is sup­posed to rec­tify the ef­fects of the dis­ci­pline of work. But we must not be mis­led; these tech­niques merely re­fer in­di­vid­u­als from one dis­ci­pli­nary au­thor­ity to an­other, and they re­pro­duce, in a con­cen­trated or for­mal­ized form, the schema of power-knowl­edge proper to each dis­ci­pline (on this sub­ject, cf. Tort). The great in­ves­ti­ga­tion that gave rise to the sci­ences of na­ture has be­come de­tached from its politico-ju­ridi­cal model; the ex­am­i­na­tion, on the other hand, is still caught up in dis­ci­pli­nary tech­nol­ogy.

In the Middle Ages, the pro­ce­dure of in­ves­ti­ga­tion grad­u­ally su­per­seded the old ac­cusatory jus­tice, by a process ini­ti­ated from above; the dis­ci­pli­nary tech­nique, on the other hand, in­sid­i­ously and as if from be­low, has in­vaded a pe­nal jus­tice that is still, in prin­ci­ple, in­quisi­to­r­ial. All the great move­ments of ex­ten­sion that char­ac­ter­ize mod­ern pe­nal­ity — the prob­lema­ti­za­tion of the crim­i­nal be­hind his crime, the con­cern with a pun­ish­ment that is a cor­rec­tion, a ther­apy, a nor­mal­iza­tion, the di­vi­sion of the act of judge­ment be­tween var­i­ous au­thor­i­ties that are sup­posed to mea­sure, as­sess, di­ag­nose, cure, trans­form in­di­vid­u­als — all this be­trays the pen­e­tra­tion of the dis­ci­pli­nary ex­am­i­na­tion into the ju­di­cial in­qui­si­tion.

What is now im­posed on pe­nal jus­tice as its point of ap­pli­ca­tion, its useful” ob­ject, will no longer be the body of the guilty man set up against the body of the king; nor will it be the ju­ridi­cal sub­ject of an ideal con­tract; it will be the dis­ci­pli­nary in­di­vid­ual. The ex­treme point of pe­nal jus­tice un­der the Ancien Regime was the in­fi­nite seg­men­ta­tion of the body of the regi­cide: a man­i­fes­ta­tion of the strongest power over the body of the great­est crim­i­nal, whose to­tal de­struc­tion made the crime ex­plode into its truth. The ideal point of pe­nal­ity to­day would be an in­def­i­nite dis­ci­pline: an in­ter­ro­ga­tion with­out end, an in­ves­ti­ga­tion that would be ex­tended with­out limit to a metic­u­lous and ever more an­a­lyt­i­cal ob­ser­va­tion, a judge­ment that would at the same time be the con­sti­tu­tion of a file that was never closed, the cal­cu­lated le­niency of a penalty that would be in­ter­laced with the ruth­less cu­rios­ity of an ex­am­i­na­tion, a pro­ce­dure that would be at the same time the per­ma­nent mea­sure of a gap in re­la­tion to an in­ac­ces­si­ble norm and the as­ymp­totic move­ment that strives to meet in in­fin­ity. The pub­lic ex­e­cu­tion was the log­i­cal cul­mi­na­tion of a pro­ce­dure gov­erned by the Inquisition. The prac­tice of plac­ing in­di­vid­u­als un­der observation” is a nat­ural ex­ten­sion of a jus­tice im­bued with dis­ci­pli­nary meth­ods and ex­am­i­na­tion pro­ce­dures. Is it sur­pris­ing that the cel­lu­lar prison, with its reg­u­lar chronolo­gies, forced labour, its au­thor­i­ties of sur­veil­lance and reg­is­tra­tion, its ex­perts in nor­mal­ity, who con­tinue and mul­ti­ply the func­tions of the judge, should have be­come the mod­ern in­stru­ment of pe­nal­ity ? Is it sur­pris­ing that pris­ons re­sem­ble fac­to­ries, schools, bar­racks, hos­pi­tals, which all re­sem­ble pris­ons ?

Elevation, section and plan of Jeremy Bentham's Panopticon penitentiary, drawn by Willey Reveley, 1791
Elevation, sec­tion and plan of Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon pen­i­ten­tiary, drawn by Willey Reveley, 1791 Source: J.Bentham, Panopticon, Works, Vol. IV, n°17