1BerkBox # 8315COMM 349Midterm ExamQuestion 1:In his books Discipline and Punish and The History of Sexuality, Michel Foucault explains that modern society is no more liberated than previous societies. While the common belief is that our society has become more humane, tolerant and free, Foucault describes the many ways in which we are still tightly regulated and restricted. Through his concept of governmentality, Foucault explores the ways that the state continues to create docile, obedient, normalized bodies through the use of discipline. The government produces citizens that best fit the government’s needs through the disciplinary process of individualization, surveillance, normalization and examination. In Discipline and Punish, Foucault traces the shift from punishment of the body to punishment of the soul. By focusing on the inner essence of a person the state individualizes its inhabitants. The state can more easily control our bodies by passing judgments on our inner being. The way we hold our fork, what clothes we wear, and how we express our gender and sexuality all say something about our soul. In order for our soul to be praised and rewarded by the government, we are forced to discipline our bodies to the state’s liking. Our bodies are only useful to the state through their “utility and docility” (Foucault, Discipline, 25). To ensure that we are being compliant and productive the state watches us all as individuals. Through the idea of the panopticon, Foucault describes that the constant possibility of the state’s surveillance causes us to police
2ourselves and others in order to avoid punishment. We continue to live in a society where we are disciplined by the government, institutions, families, peers and ourselves. The intensive and constant individualization and surveillance in our society has created hegemonic norms for how citizens are expected to behave. The state is only legitimate if it contains individuals who are healthy, obedient and productive. While the state disciplines us to be hardworking and well mannered so we can fit productively into society, Foucault explains in The History of Sexualitythat it is also essential that the state knows how its citizens make use of their sexuality and that they are capable of controlling it (26). The state constructs the idea of “normal” sex, sex that is monogamous, reproductive and beneficial for the overall state. This normalized sexuality becomes a hegemonic concept of “good” health and is rewarded, while individuals who do not discipline their sexuality to the liking of the state are marginalized and punished. In order to uphold this power over our bodies, the state maintains an active examination of the norms. There is no natural or normal sexual behavior, or any other kind of human behavior, but through discourse we assign normality and create hierarchies. In both books, Foucault explores how discourse creates reality and preserves
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