Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Foucaultians could have a field day with this



A Crisis of Confidence for Masters of the Universe

See: Dana Becker's The Myth of Empowerment: Women and the Therapeutic Culture in America, Chapter 2, "The Empire of Self Esteem":
In America, individual fulfillment has come almost to represent a social responsibility. The discourse of self-esteem has been transformed into a way of governing or managing ourselves through expert knowledge. Michel Foucault in Discipline and Punish employed Bentham’s design of the Panopticon, a model prison, as a metaphor for the way in which power is exerted over individuals in modern society. In this prison, inmates, each in his own cell, would be rendered continually visible, via backlighting, from a central tower. The effect of constant scrutiny on the inmates would be to induce in them “ state of conscious and permanent visibility that assures the automatic functioning of power.” This power, designated in Foucault’s writings as both “bio-power” and “disciplinary power,” is evidenced in the inmate’s ongoing self-observation. To Foucault the Panopticon is a metaphor for societal institutions, and self-scrutiny represents the manner in which institutions exert power over individuals through a sense of continual self-consciousness – what Foucault terms a “technology” of the self.
Sidenote re: the Times article--Why are contemporary psychiatrists so useless?

2 comments:

T said...

PS: did you see the 'Freakonomics' blurb on the NYTimes homepage? It asks: "what do prostitution and rice have to with one another? read and find out by a close economic analysis of two commodities" or something to that effect. I didn't read the article, and I dont know if the prostitution-commodity bit was tongue-in-cheek or not (although even if it were the latter... it would probably be of the cynical 'half-joking' sort). Pathetic.

Mainstream economics is the opiate of the people.

T said...

Fuck! the parenthesis should read: (although even if it were the *former*...