Café Discussion Entry 3

          McKenzie and I began our conversation by continuing our class group discussion on pages 74 and 75 of Michel Foucault’s Power/Knowledge. We looked at the relationship between a right of sovereignty and disciplinary mechanisms and the creation of a non-disciplinary power. Foucault states, “If one wants to look for a non-disciplinary form of power, or rather, to struggle against disciplines and disciplinary power, it is not towards the ancient right of sovereignty that one should turn, but towards the possibility of a new form of right, one which must indeed be anti-disciplinary, but at the same time liberated from the principle of sovereignty” (75). It took us a couple read throughs to begin to understand what Foucault meant. McKenzie suggested that the very principle of sovereignty is rooted in disciplinary mechanisms because in order to understand sovereignty, one has to understand disciplinary mechanisms. In other words, sovereignty is at times defined by what is not disciplinary, preventing us from understanding one without the other. I agreed with this statement, and added that sovereignty and disciplinary mechanisms are two poles, and in order to break from the pole of disciplinary mechanisms, Foucault argues we cannot look to the other pole, but instead create a new non-disciplinary power that is not defined by either a right of sovereignty or disciplinary mechanisms. I then brought up the quote on page 74 discussing a “society of normalization,” trying to identify how this concept relates to the two mechanisms.

          Foucault states, “disciplinary normalizations come into ever greater conflict with the juridical systems of sovereignty; their incompatibility with each other is ever more acutely felt and apparent; some kind of arbitrating discourse is made ever more necessary, a type of power and of knowledge that the sanctity of science would render neutral” (74-75). McKenzie and I had trouble understanding this statement and reread it a multiple times. McKenzie thought it could mean that sovereignty and disciplinary mechanisms undermined each other and canceled each other out, creating this normalization. I added that maybe since these two mechanisms contradict themselves, they can never be fully understood, creating the need for a new type of power. After rereading this passage a couple more times, we still could not come up with a working definition for “society of normalisation”. We concluded by attempting to create a drawing that represented our understanding of the relationship between the two mechanisms of power and an emerging non disciplinary power. The drawing is attached below, and the two dashes represent a break from the two mechanisms of power in creating a new form of power. 

Hannah Markey

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