The chief functioning of disciplinary power is to train. It links forces together to enhance and use them; it creates individual units from a mass of bodies. The success of disciplinary power depends on three elements: hierarchical observation, normalizing judgment, and examination.
In hierarchical observation, the exercise of discipline assumes a mechanism that coerces by means of observation. During the classical age "observatories" were constructed. They were part of a new physics and cosmology; new ideas of light and the visible secretly prepared a new knowledge of man. Observatories were arranged like a military camp, a model also found in schools, hospitals and prisons. Disciplinary institutions created a mechanism of control. The perfect disciplinary mechanism would make it possible to see everything constantly. The problem was breaking surveillance down into parts. In a factory, surveillance becomes part of the forces of production, as well as part of the disciplinary process; the same thing occurred in schools. Discipline operates by a calculated gaze, not by force.
Normalizing judgment. First, at the heart of all disciplinary mechanisms, a small penal system, with a micro-penality of time, behavior and speech, existed. Slight departures from correct behavior were punished. Second, discipline's method of punishment is like that of the court, but non-observance is also important. Whatever does not meet the rule departs from it. Third, disciplinary punishment has to be corrective. It favors punishment that is exercise. Fourth, punishment is an element of a double system of gratification-punishment, which defines behavior on the basis of good-evil. Fifth, the distribution according to acts and grades has a double role. It creates gaps and arranges qualities into hierarchies, but also punishes and rewards. Discipline rewards and punishes by awarding ranks.
This art of punishing refers individual actions to a whole, and differentiates individuals from each other by means of a rule that is the minimum of behavior. It measures individuals and places them in a hierarchical system; it also traces the abnormal. The perpetual penalty essentially normalizes. This is opposed to the juridical penalty that defines the individual according to a corpus of laws, texts and general categories. Disciplinary mechanisms create a "penality of the norm". The normal, which exists in medicine, factories and schools, is one of the great instruments of power at the end of the classical period. Marks of status were replaced by ideas of belonging to a "normal" group. Normalization makes people homogeneous, but it also makes it possible to measure differences between individuals.
Examination. Examination represents the techniques of an observing hierarchy and those of a normalizing judgment, a gaze that makes it possible to qualify, classify and punish. It is a ritualized innovation of the classical age; the organization of the hospital as an examining machine is one of the features of the eighteenth century. A similar process is evident in the development of examination in schools. Examination introduced certain new features: first, it transformed the economy of visibility into the exercise of power. The subject, and not the sovereign, becomes seen. Second, examination introduces individuality into the field of documentation; a mass of writing fixes the individual. Third, each individual becomes a "case" that can be analyzed and described.
Examination is at the center of processes that constitute the individual as an effect and object of power. The disciplines mark the move from a situation where individuality is greatest in the higher ranks, to one where those on whom anonymous power is exercised are more individual. The child is more individual than the man, the patient more than the healthy man. If you want to individualize a man, ask how much of the madman he has in him.
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)