All posts by Claire Penketh

Discipline and Punish…

Don’t worry. It’s not a threat. But where were you today?

Here are some notes from the seminar with links to a few videos that might be of interest.

Foucault, M. (1991) Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison London: Penguin.

This reading of Foucault has a particular focus on space and technology. These can be considered as spaces of production – the body within these spaces is discussed as a body that is subject to particular technologies. The organisation of space is discussed in relation to control and correction.

Foucault has a particular concern with knowledge/power. Power is not wielded by one over another. We are all bound up within power relations. We exercise power but we are also subject to power.

(Foucault, 1991:136) – Foucault focuses on 18th Century.

What happened in the 18th C to mark such changes?

‘The classical age discovered the body as object and target of power. It is easy enough to find signs of the attention then paid to the body – to the body that is manipulated, shaped, trained, which obeys, responds, becomes skilful, and increases its forces.’

Docile bodies – training and organization of individuals in societal structures.

‘A body is docile that may be subjected, used, transformed and improved.’

‘The body’ had always been subject to control but the 18thC marked distinct changes.

P138 – The human body was entering a machinery of power that explores it, breaks it down and rearranges it. A ‘political anatomy’ which was also a ‘mechanics of power’, was being born; it defined how one may have a hold over others’ bodies, not only so that they may do what one wishes, but so that they may operate as one wishes, with the techniques, the speed and the efficiency that one determines. Thus discipline produces subjected and practiced bodies. Discipline increases the forces of the body (in economic terms of utility) and diminishes these forces (in political terms of obedience).

Forces are described not as one huge and central power but ‘a multiplicity of often minor processes’ at work in schools, hospitals, large workshops, in the military:

‘On almost every occasion they were adopted in response to particular needs: an industrial innovation, a renewed outbreak of certain epidemic diseases, the invention of the rifle…’

The art of distributions

‘discipline proceeds from the distribution of individuals in space’

Enclosure – a space described as heterogeneous – closed in upon itself

(monastery, boarding school, workhouse, military barracks – a space that becomes a heterogeneous place )

Consider the term heterogeneous – how might this compare/contrast with contemporary ideas on the uses of space? Can you give examples?

What do we mean by heterogeneous?

Partitioning – ‘each individual has its own place’. There are as many spaces as there are individuals.

‘Its aim was to establish presences and absences, to know where and how to locate individuals , to set up useful communications, …It was a procedure, therefore aimed at knowing, mastering and using. Discipline organizes an analytical space.’

The cellular space – I’m having trouble uploading the images for this and I’ll come back to edit later.

Functional sites – read p 144 – 145 (organisation of a factory).

Time also becomes an important aspect for consideration. We discussed the control of activity via the time-table.

‘The principle that under-lay the timetable in its traditional form was essentially negative, it was the principle of non-idleness: it was forbidden to waste time, which was counted by God and paid for by men; the timetable was to eliminate the danger of wasting it – a moral offence and economic dishonesty.’ (p.154)

and I was particularly interested in the role of observation within these processes of regulation. 

P170 – Observation is also significant in the ways in which space and technology are conceived.

‘The exercise of discipline presupposes a mechanism that coerces by means of observation; an apparatus in which the techniques that make it possible to see induce effects of power’


Spatial organization and use of technologies are directly implicated in the organization power and subjection of the body.

Panopticism – p200 – 202

The panoptican described as a ‘laboratory of power’.

Use of a particular kind of technology and organisation of space in a way that generates self-regulation by surveillance. Being seen but not seeing.

This relates to the regulation and control of ’the body’. The first clip here will give you a good way in to the ‘panoptican’ chapter.

Starting to blog…

This is space where we hope to share reflections on some of the ideas from lectures and seminars related to Space, Culture and Technology. Importantly this blog makes use of technology to create an additional space for us to think about some of the readings relevant to the module. These readings will take different forms. The first I’m going to suggest is a reading of a website. Is reading the right word for how we make sense of a website?

This link will take you to the official website for Nam June Paik an artist who was influential in developing video based technologies in his work. This offers you an introduction to his work which will be useful as Taz and I have planned a field trip which will include a visit to the Nam June Paik exhibition at Liverpool Tate in March.

When you look at the work it would be useful to think about how technology has been used and how culture and space are reflected and represented.