Discipline and Punish by Michel Foucault

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Table of Contents

  • Norms and Normalization: Michel Foucault's
  • The Universal Functional Operating Mode
  • Conclusion

Norms and Normalization: Michel Foucault’s

In Discipline and Punish, 1974, Foucault pointed out there are three types of punishment from classical age to modern age. In the classical age, there are many countries of feudalism, like France, China, Korea, etc., that countries adopt the constitutional monarchy system. The King of those countries used to show the view of punishing prisoner to the citizen, which benefits the King to control his citizen through the visible pain of the body. In the late 18th century, the humanist carry out the punishment of imprisonment to substitute for the torture and cruel treatment of body and establish the mandated standards as law. In the Modern age, the ruling party redefined the manifestation of disciplinary power and prison supervision scientifically, universally, exquisitely and abstractly.

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The role of the surveillance in the culture of cities is to assist the disciplinary institutions to control over the others through the power discipline. We can realise how the government party control over the citizen through the gaze and surveillance through the panopticon prison. The panopticon is an efficient prison building, which is designed by Bentham. In this prison, every prisoner is imprisoned in a small room and is constantly being watched by guards in the central tower. In addition to the watch tower, that prison is transparent and bright so that the monitor is easily watch over the prisoner. Therefore, the prisoners only know there are be watched but they don’t know what time they are be watched, so the prisoner will control their every action themselves at any moment. In this way, each of the prisoners will be self-disciplined, because they all feel that they are being watched anytime and anywhere. This external gaze gradually transforms into an individual’s inner daily surveillance during this high-efficiency discipline.

The Universal Functional Operating Mode

It is a universal functional mode of operation, a way of determining power relations from the perspective of people’s daily lives.

This is a universal functional mode of operation, a way of determining power relations from the people’s daily lives. The panopticon prison – surveillance reduce the number of people gaining power and increase the number of people who are be controlled. The surveillance enables the political party in power to intervene at any time before a fault, mistake, or crime occurs. The power of surveillance is not intervening but automatically applied, which forms a knock-on effect.

In 2014, British artists Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin created an artwork Spirit is a bone which idea is inspired by a facial recognition system of public security surveillance software in Moscow. This software is using on the public area such as subway station, train station, stadium and concert hall, etc., which can capture people’s face from four different angle so that build up a complete three dimensional personal facial image on computer. Therefore, in Broomberg and Chanarin’s work, the subject characters always looking forward and show stony-faced because they are monitored. This work is showing the view of the monitor to us and how the monitor gazing us. This work is refer to the German photographer August Sander’s Pastry Cook, 1928 in the showing form. Sander has take over 300 pieces portrait which is including baker, philosopher and the revolutionist who stand in the centre of the photograph and look at us bravely through the camera. Broomberg said that he was influenced by the contemporary artist Helmar Lerski’s work who is insist of no one can read anyone’s mind from their face.


This work is showing to us that we are surveillance by the gazing of the camera of the government, which also expressing the issue of the power relationship between the governing party and the citizen. On one side, this software are protecting us from the crime through the deterrence, which restrain someone from committing or preparing to commit a crime in the public place, which assure that the security of public place. It also assures that the police will know the feature of the criminal even if somebody commit a crime. On the other side, this work is showing to us the discipline power is ubiquitously infiltrated into the entire social life even the ordinary people are also placed under the supervision of power and doing self-discipline. The citizen’s behaviour, identity and position are also monitored and reported to the government. The government party are judging and making potential criminals of all the citizen. There are the other question were be mentioned that If we want to be free should we scarifies our a part of freedom?

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