Foucault News

News and resources on French thinker Michel Foucault (1926-1984)

Gordon Hull, Foucault on Public Opinion, New APPS: Art, Politics, Philosophy, Science, 29 October 2020

If you’re like me, you spend too much time – way too much time – these days looking at polling data.  I ran across some interesting remarks by Foucault on opinion yesterday, which I’ll share here as a technique of distraction.  He makes them in the context of a 1976 conversation with J. P. Barou and Michelle Perrot (whose work on resistance to disciplinary power he favorably cites near the end of the conversation) that was published as the preface to an edition of Bentham’s Panopticon writings.  It appears as “L’oeil du pouvoir” (D&E #195, pp. 190-207 in my 2 volume edition) and is translated in Foucault Live (=FL).   For context, then, the conversation appears in the year after Discipline and Punish.  It covers a range of topics, including Foucault’s own path to discovering the panopticon (initially via hospital architecture, which had the dual need to see patients and keep them physically separated to avoid the spread of disease).

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