This article explores Foucault’s assessment of the History of Power and it’s mutations over time. There are 3 dominant processes of power as described by Foucault’s Discipline and Punish, Jeffrey Nealon adds a fourth process to describe the emergent power system of today:
century of Emergence 17th 17th-18th 18th-19th 19th-present
Mode of Power Sovereign Social Discipline Biopwer
Primary Actor King Jurist Expert Individual
Primary Target Flesh Signs Capacities Lives
Primary Hinge Bodies Souls Training Governmentality
Primary Practice Ceremony Representation Exercise Norm
Most Intense Form Torture Reform Panopticism Sexuality
Desired Outcome Obedience Community Docility Autocontrol
This link is slightly tangental, but relevant in that they talk about the reification of self through interaction. How people establish their reality, and with that their identity through feedback loops, input from other people and their environment. They describe experiments which isolate people, that ultimately lead to hallucination and pacing, as people create input for their starved processors(minds).
This idea of existence through communicated affirmation of self paired with the power of the norm are vividly portrayed in Kafka’s Metamorphosis. When he does not perform to his capacity his family(actors) disassociates(discipline) from him and he can no longer hold on to reality or a sense of self(life-existence, not dead or alive).
This human condition, to exist through the larger body, is one characteristic of individuals which enables the mechanism of norms to be so effective. The threat of a compromised life, of isolation, using individuals to disseminate discipline, makes the Biopower model extremely light and efficient.
It occurs to me that this social pressure always existed, and is only now coming into alignment with democratic power, being exploited for control. I am unclear as to how the primary hinge is governmentality, but I suppose this could reflect that norms are built in accordance with or to contest authority (government).