Anne and I met again for Foucault (and nice coffee) this morning. This time we tackled Part 4- Prisons: Complete and Austere Institutions. We’re getting excited because for a while there it didn’t look like we’d ever get to the end. But we have set ourselves the final two sections for next week. Just as well really, as we are scheduled to give a research presentation at uni in the beginning of September about this very reading group. So it will probably look better if we have at least finished the book we set out to complete.
I think this chapter (and really the whole last section of DandP) is particularly interesting because Foucault really gets stuck into the whole question of delinquency. With the modern practices of the prison, he observes a microcosm of disciplinary society more generally. And he spends quite some time describing the difference between an “offender” and a “delinquent”. For the “delinquent” is produced and made visible by the very disciplinary, penitentiary techniques that are designed to transform and correct his/her behaviour. This is perhaps what is really fascinating about disciplinary procedures which are operations of control and normalisation. They always carry with them a residue of resistance, here defined by Foucault as delinquency.
While a lot of the discussion was about the actual chapter, we also spent some time chatting about what we should include in our presentation. At the moment ideas range from why we started reading together (and why we started with Foucault in particular) – through to what it means to be a “researcher” in a regional community.
Coffee and chocolate brioche was fantastic by the way.2 Comments »