Re: Foucault for beginners

On Wed, 12 Mar 1997, John Ransom wrote:

> Let's say someone teaches us how to
> write--perhaps the state in the form of a compulsory education system. The
> state has its own "reasons of state" for making this a part of the
> curriculum: it needs bureaucrats who can write. Power "constitutes"
> generations upon generations of young people who can write. But this
> constitution of individuals is clearly on some level an empowerment of
> them as well.

I would just like to add that a good example of the above point would be
the one mentioned some time ago on this list about Bart Simpson writing on
the blackboard at school as part of some punishment. He's obviously
been told to write something over and over in response to some violation.
But he twists the discipline he has received in both senses of the word
and turns an exercise of power around on its user--just as the workers
with the strike fund did (see below).


> One quick
> example: In "Power and Norm: Notes," in Michel Foucault: _Power, Truth,
> Strategy_, eds. Meaghan Morris and Paul Patton (Sydney, Australia: Feral
> Publications, 1979), p. 60, Foucault gives the example of a plan by
> factory owners to encourage savings among workers. By promoting this as a
> value, the owners hope to tie their workers down to one job, reducing
> absenteeism and job-hopping. The workers learn their lesson--only "too
> well," and go on to organize a strike fund with their savings. An
> oppositional capacity was constituted into the workers--the factory owners
> couldn't control all uses of the power-induced skill.
> But I know I've gone on too long.
> --John

Re: Foucault for beginners, John Ransom
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