A More Marxist Foucault?

Reading La société punitive

In: Historical Materialism
Stuart Elden University of Warwick

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This article analyses Foucault’s 1972–3 lecture course, La société punitive. While the course can certainly be seen as an initial draft of themes for the book Surveiller et punir (Discipline and Punish), there are some important differences. The reading here focuses on different modes of punishment; the civil war and the social enemy; the comparison of England and France; and political economy. It closes with some analysis of the emerging clarity in Foucault’s work around power and genealogy. This is a course where Foucault makes use of Marxist language and categories, engages with historical materialism, and offers a complementary and at times corrective focus.

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