Foucault begins with the ideal of the soldier in the seventeenth century. He is easily recognizable in body and action. The classical age discovered the body as the target of power. The docile body is subjected, used, transformed and improved. Eighteenth century projects of docility represented a new scale of control. The economy of the body became important. The modality of control implies uninterrupted, constant coercion, which is exercised according to a codification that partitions time and space. These methods are the disciplines, ways of controlling the operations of the body which imposed a relation of docility-utility. The disciplines had always existed in monasteries and armies, but in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries they became a general formula of domination. A policy of coercion that acts on the body was formed. The human body entered a machinery that explored and rearranged it. A political anatomy and a mechanics of power were slowly born. We cannot write the history of different disciplinary institutions, merely map a series of detailed examples.
"The art of distributions." Discipline proceeds from the distribution of individuals in space, and employs several techniques: one) Discipline sometimes requires enclosure in a protected place, e.g. a school, factory, or barracks. two) Disciplinary machinery works on the principle of partitioning space; it is always cellular. three) The rule of functional sites would gradually code a space that architecture left at the disposal of several sites. four) In discipline, the elements are interchangeable because each is identified by its place in a series. The key unit is the rank or place in a classification. Rank begins to define the distribution of individuals in educational space.
"Control of activity." One) the timetable is an old inheritance, suggested by monastic communities. The division of time in disciplinary authorities increased. two) The temporal elaboration of the act. Time penetrates the body with all the meticulous controls of power. three) The correlation of body and gesture. Disciplinary power imposes the best relation between gesture and the overall position of the body. In the correct use of the body, nothing must remain useless. four) Body-object articulation. Discipline defines each of the relationships between body and the object (e.g. a rifle) it manipulates. five) Exhaustive use. The traditional timetable forbids men to waste time. Discipline provides a positive economy, and poses the principle of ever-expanding use of time. The "natural body," which is manipulated by authority and classified, supercedes the mechanical body.
"The organization of geneses." As the eighteenth century progressed, different arrangements of time were evident; new technology developed in the classical period for regulating time, bodies and forces. The Disciplines were machinery for adding up and capitalizing time, in four different ways: one) by dividing duration into successive and parallel segments, each of which ends with a specific time. two) By organizing these segments according to an analytical plan. three) By finalizing these temporal segments with an examination to decide if a subject has reached the required level. four) By drawing up a series of series, and subdividing each series again. Dividing activities into series makes detailed control and intervention possible.
Disciplinary methods reveal a linear, evolutive time. But at the same time a social time of a serial cumulative type existed, giving an idea of evolution in terms of "genesis". The two great discoveries of the eighteenth century were the progress of society and the genesis of individuals linked to new technologies of power. At the center of the seriation of time was the procedure of exercise, a technology by which one imposes a repetitive or difficult task on the body. Exercise has a long history: it is found in military, religious, and universal practice as ritual or ceremony. Exercises became tasks of increasing complexity that marked the acquisition of knowledge and good behavior. Exercise was initially a way of organizing time towards salvation, but it became part of a political technology of the body.
"The Composition of forces." The military unit became a machine of many parts; there was a need to create smaller units out of a mass. This was similar to the idea of creating a productive force that was greater than its elements. Discipline became the art of composing forces to obtain an efficient machine. This demands explanation: one) the individual body becomes an element that is placed, moved and articulated. The soldier or body is inserted into a larger machine. two) The time of the individual unit is adjusted to the time of others. three) A carefully measured combination of forces requires a precise command of forces. The leader needs to signal in various ways to his charges.
Discipline creates individuality out of the bodies that it controls. It is cellular, organic and genetic. It has four techniques: it draws up tables, it prescribes movements, it imposes exercises and arranges tactics. The highest form of disciplinary practice is war as strategy. Strategy makes it possible to understand warfare as a way of conducting politics between states. The classical age sees the birth of strategy between states, but also the creation of a strategy by which bodies within states were controlled. This was a military dream of society, which referred not to a contract or the state of nature but to the cogs of a machine. While jurists and philosophers looked to the contract to explain the creation of society, the technicians of discipline created procedures for the individual and collective coercion of bodies.
Again, the body is the subject of attention. Now, however, the body is not subject to torture but to forces of discipline and control. Foucault analyzes various technologies that control and affect the body.
Docility is achieved through the actions of discipline. Discipline is different from force or violence because it is a way of controlling the operations and positions of the body. The link to the idea of academic "disciplines" such as the human sciences is intended, and becomes important later. The fact that Foucault finds the roots of discipline in monasteries and armies is important. Monastic rules, which regulate the behavior of monks, and drill exercises in the army both emphasize self-control and obedience to rules, but from differing starting points. When Foucault talks of their extension over time, he does not suggest that everyone eventually became monks or soldiers. Instead, he argues that institutions like prisons, schools and hospitals acted like machines for transforming and controlling people in this period. To do this, they fixed individuals in time and space. Foucault thinks of these institutions in terms of machines and living organisms, hence the reference to political anatomy.
The organization of individuals in space works according to certain rules. The whole process works within a larger space, such as the prison, which is divided into parts or cells. Discipline depends on the idea of a series, such as a line of pupils, or a rank of soldiers.
The control of time is equally important. Foucault again traces the regulation of time back to monastic life. The idea that people are held in a series is preserved, only this time they are controlled by a timetable like that discussed at the beginning of section one. Foucault's idea of a "positive economy" is hard to grasp. It essentially means that modern timetables aim to cram more and more activity into a day.
Time also has broader effects. These effects are related to the technology of time that includes both machines like clocks and the political technology that regulates the individual's time. The disciplines are not machines for calculating time in the same way as clocks, but rather ways of regulating time as the individual experiences it. Time is divided up like space. The convict's day is divided into one-hour segments, for example, according to a detailed plan. The control of space and time is essential to Foucault's disciplinary system because they are the most basic elements of human life. Regulating them affects the way in which people act and think; it is a particularly deep and effective strategy.
Foucault begins with time and space as the individual experiences them, but he places this time within a large context. He argues that a wider type of time existed, in which everyone moved; he also argues that the eighteenth century invented the idea of the progress of society. Foucault is talking about the Enlightenment, an eighteenth century philosophical movement that was concerned with reason and human progress. He is unusual in that he links this movement, represented by writers such as Voltaire, Rousseau, and Kant, to the development of prisons, timetables and other technologies. However, it is important to Foucault that philosophical texts and timetables are part of the same structures of power.
Like the timetable, exercise derives from the practices of monasteries, and is yet another way of regulating the body through activity. Prayer, which was aimed at salvation, and military drills are examples of this original form of exercise. The key shift came when the purpose of exercise changed from the benefit of the individual to control. Unlike silent prayer, the "exercise yard" of a prison does not necessarily benefit the prisoners, Foucault would argue.
The final element that Foucault analyzes is the idea of the body as part of a machine. This is a development of the division of space and time. Now, however, the body becomes a cog in a machine. Foucault does not argue that groups of people never existed before the classical period, but that the idea of arranging and controlling them was new. The power that arranges people, however, makes them into individual units. It seems like a contradiction in terms, but for Foucault the "individual" could exist only when massive groups were created. The group was not created from individuals, but vice versa. The idea of creating the individual as an object of knowledge becomes important later. Creating the individual out of the group contradicts the common philosophical view about the creation of society. This view argued that society came from a contract or agreement between men. Foucault reveals his opinion of modern society here: that you cannot choose to enter it through a contract, and that it controls you absolutely through technology and power.
The ideal of a penal imprisonment is criticized by many reformers because
1. it is incapable of corresponding to the specificity of crimes
2. it has no effect on the public
3. It is useless, even harmful to society: it is costly. it maintains convicts in idleness, it multiplies their vices.
4. the execution of this penalty (imprisonment) is difficult to supervise
5. There is a risk of exposing prisoners to the uncontrolled power of the guards
6. The job (prison guard) is an exercise of tyranny (dictatorship)