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Micheal Foucault


Foucault is a sociologist who believes in power and how social control is used for people. His definition of power/knowledge is, “It is not the acquisition of knowledge that gives one power, instead knowledge is never separate from power but is instead a specific means for exercising power.” (Pp.618). This quote says, through knowledge we can use it in a way to create power and that knowledge and power are connected, you can’t have one without the other. I think it means that it’s what you DO with the knowledge that you acquire that gives you power. You use what you know–knowledge–to exercise your power. You are powerless without knowledge; knowing ANYTHING is the beginning of a plan. Acting on what you know, using what you know to develop a plan of action–that is power. Knowledge is power because it is used as a means to get what you want.



*300, seems like the perfect example according to Foucault, its disciple and there are rules for everybody and it’s a form of education.


Punishment & Discipline


“Power is not founded on itself or generated by itself. Or we could say, more simply, that there are not first of all relations of production and then, in addition, alongside or on top of these relations, mechanisms of power that modify or disturb them, or make them more consistent, coherent, or stable.”

Foucault, Michel and Graham Burchell (Translator). Security, Territory, Population. 1977-78.


Foucault talks about that power is more invasive and power can subject you to danger. Foucault argues that punishment has moved through three stages, the first stage is torture, body mutilation.” From the readings Foucault talks about this stage as a severe physical punitive practices. The question that always raises a question is, why do we send people to prison? To punish them or reform them?. I think we do not have enough counselors’ s in a jail system working with the prisoners. I think if we had a proper system that can afford the proper therapy to inmates. They wouldn’t walk out of jail ready to do crime again; instead the system should expect them to walk out obeying the law.


His second stage is surveillance and discipline, his notion for this was, “the physical harm as the central focus of punishment is replaced by technologies of observation and discipline aimed at the mind rather than the body.” (Pp. 618). The panopticon, is this design that the guard sits in the middle at the top, while the out surroundings were cells. It’s a model prison where everything can be easily watched and the idea that people don’t know they are being watched. The whole notion of panopticon is that he wants the prisoners would “develop self-discipline motivated by the fear of being under observation.” (pp.619). The third stage is disciplinary society. He explains that by being watched it puts one on their best behavior. The individuals normalize their own behavior without disciplining themselves. This power is everywhere our lives are constructed by work, school, jobs, etc.

“the gaze” that Foucault uses is simply saying these surveillance are all seen by someone.


Jean Baudrillard


The matrix


The movie is more of a post-modern thought; the main point of the movie was when you are giving a choice with the “blue pill” or the “red pill”. The blue pill will suggest you stay the same and nothing will change. But however the red pill takes you away from the real world then you will find the truth. The movie shows how the matrix is a computer world, but once neo learns about the truth he can make it in the matrix. Baudrillard has a way of seeing how he understands the world; everything isn’t what it seems to be.



Harold Garfinkel


Garfinkel created the term “ethnomethodology” as a way to describe how people use different methods in order to understand the society they live in.” ( Wikipedia) Ethnomethodology understands the social orders people use to make sense of the world through analyzing their everyday experiences. All people try and make sense of what other people do and say. Questions leading up to, how do we reach out to people and gather data about them?



Application: Garfinkel also work is known for the breaching experiment.

This was the elevator trick, the person had to turn their back and see if anyone approaches them. This is something out of the normal behavior that anyone would do. According to Garfinkel the elevator trick he would be more concern of the interactions with the boy in the elevator and not the outcome. Critique: I like his notion of ethnomethodology because we everyday aren’t aware that we use different methods to understand society, at least I know I know that I am not aware of this. He just gives talks about how social norms are put into a society. He explains how he wants to make sense of people and a better understanding.


Allan, K. (2006). Organizing Ordinary Life. In Contemporary social and sociological theory: Visualizing social worlds. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Pine Forge Press

Appelrouth, Scott and Laura Desfor Edles. 2012. Classical and Contemporary Sociological Theory.2nd ed. Los Angeles, CA: Sage.


Two research questions:

1. do development of prisons depend on social and economic factors?

2. when can we see power as a response?


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