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Response to foucault s technologies of the

Foucault and "the Right to Life": Yet, disability activists also claim a "right to life" that biopower would seem to both promise and withhold—the production of new capacities for health. Disabled people are necessarily oriented to seek relief from the indignities of social disenfranchisement and paternalist interventions, while simultaneously relying on the institutional mechanisms through which these effects are produced as the means of seeking new norms for living.

As reform efforts increasingly focus on quality of life and seek to empower "consumers" of health services, we are inexorably moving beyond the political costs and historical limits of rights discourse: It was life more than the law that became the issue of political struggles, even if the latter were formulated through affirmations concerning rights. The "right" to life, to one's body, to health, to happiness, to the satisfaction of needs, and beyond all the oppressions or "alienations," the "right" to rediscover what one is and all that one can be, this "right"—which the classical juridical system was utterly incapable of comprehending—was the political response to all these new procedures of power which did not derive, either, from the traditional right of sovereignty.

For disability activists, the traditional imperative to "fix" or efface disabled people is the hallmark of a modern, normalizing society that has little tolerance or willingness to accommodate the differences of disabled people. Furthermore, for many disabled people a "cure" is neither possible and for some may not even be desirable.

Against the normalizing demand for disabled people to be adapted to their environments usually through overcoming their disability or by becoming reconciled to their situationthe disability studies movement has focused on improving quality of life through the transformation of social and physical environments.

Supporting and complementing this activism, early British disability theorists argued for a distinction between impairment as a medical condition and disability as the effect of a social process.

This British "social model" of disability, as it came to be called, countered the traditional response to foucault s technologies of the that disability is the direct result of an individual deficit or incapacity.

For disability scholars, disablism describes not only a variety of discriminatory practices, but also the way in which disability, as an effect of social oppression, is naturalized through medical and popular discourse as the "symptom" of individual attributes, that is, as the effect of impairments.

  • For example, in her critique of the questionnaire that determines eligibility for the Disability Living Allowance DLA , Shildrick characterizes the way in which state administered aid becomes an opportunity for oppressive surveillance;
  • Forms of surveillance, examination, and observation attempted to discover disease wherever it might lurk and to classify and diagnose pathological symptoms with as great of acuity as possible;
  • The effects of technology and industry can contribute to physiological anomalies;
  • In tandem with this effort, Foucault researched the history of the prisons, aiming to find out something that the prisoners themselves could not tell him;
  • Thomson 45 In his 1975-76 lecture series Society Must Be Defended 2003 , Foucault explicates the stakes and implications of the protective role biopower establishes for itself;
  • Whenever we try to influence others, this is power.

In the United States, foregrounding the socio-political dimensions of disability and focusing attention on patterns of discrimination allowed disability studies to link itself with other versions of identity politics, which were largely predicated on a "minority-group model" of activism.

As Harlan Hahn writes, "From this perspective, the problems faced by disabled citizens are essentially similar to the difficulties encountered by other minorities. The basic issues are prejudice and discrimination evoked by visible or labeled human differences" 171.

Thus, parallel and concurrent to the theorization of the "social model" of disability, there developed a strategy of activism that put forward claims to rights and to protections against discriminatory practices and environments.

Concurrently, the "social model" of disability came under critique for mirroring the Cartesian dualism of the medical model and ceding study of impairment to medical authority Hughes 67. More crucially, in the age of biopolitics and poststructuralist critique, a whole series of parallel distinctions that ground the original "minority-group" and "social" models of disability have become increasingly problematic: Intervention and transformation of discourses about disability, social attitudes, and institutional policies continues to be central to the mission of disability studies and disability activism.

Yet, understanding the construction of the disabled body and continued theorization of disability require bridging the gap between materialist, discursive, personal, institutional, and political perspectives.

On this theoretical front, recent scholarship has called for a "sociology of body" which would take its cue from the poststructuralist emphasis on the body as a politicized space. The work of Michel Foucault has proved especially important to these efforts. More recently the edited-collection, Foucault and the Government of Disability 2005illustrates the wide-ranging relevance of Foucault's work for contemporary disability studies response to foucault s technologies of the.

For the present study, I would like to focus on two primary dimensions of Foucault's work and their points of contact with disability studies.

First and foremost, Foucault's work is relevant for contemporary disability studies because of his theorization of the body as a thoroughly and inexorably politicized space. In his genealogical studies, Foucault undertakes the task to "expose a body totally imprinted by history and by the process of history's destruction of the body" "Nietzsche, Genealogy, History" 357.

Foucault's work challenges the traditional "social model" of disability insofar as it reifies and naturalizes "impairments" as the transhistorical and neutral foundations of disability.

Building on continuing critique of the "social model," Tremain employs Foucault's work to argue that impairments themselves are not "intrinsic defects that demand to be corrected or eliminated as the 'medical model' assumes " but rather are "created by social and economic arrangements and conditions that can response to foucault s technologies of the transformed" Tremain, "Biopower …" 598. Foucault's work challenges us to recognize that the "difficult physical realities" of disability are themselves socially constructed and to undertake the task of diagnosing the forces that produce them.

Second, and complementarily, Foucault theorizes the modern social field in terms of biopolitics. He argues any attempt to understand modern political struggles and the claims of rights discourse must begin by recognizing such claims as a political response to what he characterizes as the triumph of biopower.

As Foucault describes it, biopower is the proper name for the emergence and integrated exercise of both a technology of discipline, which produces docile bodies, and the normative regulation of populations; it takes life itself as the object of its exercise: While biopower takes life as its object of exercise, it does so by applying itself to the "everyday life categories of the individual.

There are two meanings of the word "subject": In light of Foucault's analysis, the disability studies movement should be understood as an effect of biopower; that is, it constitutes disabled people as subjects who claim a "right to life," a claim that relies on the essential promise of a form of power that produces "disability" as a socially and politically marginalized identity.

As Wendy Brown argues in States of Injury: Power and Freedom in Late Modernity 1995in liberal societies such claims are filtered through the discourse of universal human rights: In this story, the always imminent but increasingly politically manifest failure of liberal universalism to be universal—the transparent fiction of state universality—combines with the increasing individuation of social subjects through capitalist disinternments and disciplinary productions.

Michel Foucault: Political Thought

Together, they breed the emergence of politicized identity rooted in disciplinary productions but oriented by liberal discourse toward protest against exclusion from a discursive formation of universal justice.

In the following study, my aim is to reevaluate disability studies in terms of the configuration of social relations that have produced disability as identity and motivated claims for social protection. Technologies of normalization are not solely or primarily about the exclusionary, prohibitive functions of social neglect, stigmatization, and institutional paternalism.

Rather, the primary danger we face today is the continued intensification of power relations through increasingly invasive and privatized mechanisms of rehabilitation.

Power and Its Intensifications since 1984 2008"societies of control extend and intensify the tactics of discipline and biopower by linking training and surveillance to ever-more-minute realms of everyday lifethey also give birth to a whole new form" 68.

Ultimately, I argue that we have already moved past a point where rights discourse is the primary front in the battle against disablism.

The Failure of Rights Discourse It is commonplace in disability studies to assert that we are all only "temporarily-abled. On the other, as Eva Kittay points out, even those of us who lead full and healthy response to foucault s technologies of the will experience dependency at least twice, "when we are infants and when we are very old" qtd.

Response to foucault s technologies of the times, this invocation almost seems to suggest that if only the mythical "normal subject" would accept that it too will be disabled someday, then a primary obstacle to the social acceptance and accommodation of disability would disappear. Namely, the linguistic turn of identity politics arrives at the recognition that "any state of sameness actually requires difference in order to structure itself" 4.

Yet, the realization of a common intersubjective ground to social and linguistic identity formation does not entail a political success. As Nealon goes on to argue: It is not necessarily surprising, then, that needing the other often shows itself as resenting the other. Alterity Politics 7 Insofar as identity politics are thematized through reference to a lack, a failure of wholeness, and the instability of identity in the same, it tends to reinscribe as an object of desire the very privileges it seeks to deconstruct.

Thus, identity politics have often been haunted by the unacknowledged goal of attaining the privileges from which certain categories of people are excluded and thereby maintains as ideal the configuration of power relations that produce these politicized identities as effects Brown 7.

As an example, we might consider Lennard Davis's "dismodernist" approach to identity politics, an approach that is founded on the radical version of "lack" discovered in disability. Davis sees the disability movement as having a unique potential to destabilize the "normal subject" insofar as it presents a "real," physical i. In a dismodernist mode, the ideal is not a hypostatization of the normal that is, dominant subject, but aims to create a new category based on the partial, incomplete subject whose realization is not autonomy and independence but dependency and interdependence.

This is a very different notion from subjectivity organized around wounded identities; rather, all humans are seen as wounded. Wounds are not the result of oppression, but rather the other way around.

Protections are not inherent, endowed by the creator, but created by society at large and administered to all. The idea of a protected class in law now becomes less necessary since the protections offered to that class are offered to all. Bending Over Backwards 30 Whereas, Davis wants to unsettle the privilege of the "normal subject," his invocation of the lack or "wound" creates a platform for extending this very privilege elided as "protections" in the passage to the disabled.

Precisely because everyone is recognized as lacking, the goal remains to achieve wholeness through dependence on each other: Davis's argument for a "right to be ill" ends up becoming an argument for a right to be protected from illness or even a "right to be normal" for all. Of course, it is not particularly the commitment or goal that is problematic, but the appeal to rights discourse itself.

The essential and unavoidable problem with rights discourse is that it appeals to a liberal notion of equality that " insofar as it neither constitutes political community nor achieves substantive equality, guarantees only that all individuals will be treated as if they were sovereign and isolated individuals" Brown 110.

As Brown argues, the formal equality of liberalism abandons the individual to the social forces that produce her or him as a politicized identity.

Thus, the problem with rights discourse and the desire to seek melioration within its institutions is that "[it] continuously recolonizes political identity as political interest—a conversion that recasts politicized identity's substantive and often deconstructive cultural claims and critiques as generic claims of particularism endemic to universalist political culture" Brown 59.

Along these lines, we might consider Brown's example of the way in which an identity such as the response to foucault s technologies of the subject" is produced and regulated through categories of "motherhood, disability, race, age, and so forth" 59. While such subjects seek the intervention of the state, that is, a political solution for social inequity, the response is further reform and administration by the institutions that produced these subjects as effects.

In other words, the entire system becomes a closed circuit: For another example, political efforts to address racism culminate in affirmative action legislation, which in turn becomes a mean of regulating ethnic identities through institutional and legal procedures. This effectively shifts debates and conflicts over racism from response to foucault s technologies of the political issue to one addressed in the educational system and through workplace litigation.

At the same time, conservatives characterize such programs as reverse discrimination that unfairly provides "rewards" based on characteristics i. Brown describes a two-stage process whereby political claims against social inequalities are depoliticized and privatized through disciplinary administration and the logic of formal justice.

This pattern holds equally true for the disability movement. Though intended to politically contest social inequalities pertaining both to the allocation of resources and the self determination of the disabled, measures such as the ADA ultimately depoliticize and privatize these claims by reinserting them into the purview of judicial institutions: Furthermore, such measures not only neutralize political claims as private interest, but through bureaucratic codification reify the subject categories that are meant to protect and serve as a means of further disciplinary regulation.

In consideration of the latter claim, it is important to recognize the way in forms of disciplinary discourses imply and reinforce one another. Historically, this has been particularly true of the relationship between medical and judicial discourse. In his lecture series on this very topic, Foucault reiterates the fundamental thesis of much of his work, that power is productive, that it "multiplies itself on the basis of its own effects" and operates primarily through the "formation of knowledge" Abnormal 48.

Disability scholars have pointed out that a primary aspect of court decisions pertaining to disability has been the reliance on medical knowledge. As Hahn points out, "courts have viewed medical evidence of a functional impairment as an essential pre-condition for legal findings about disability" 185. Even legislation designed specifically to aid and accommodate the disabled is often administered in ways that undermine its positive impact.

  • Finally, thanks to the anonymous reviewers who provided extremely helpful feedback and suggestions;
  • This book was a history of psychology, published in English as Mental Illness and Psychology;
  • For example, in her critique of the questionnaire that determines eligibility for the Disability Living Allowance DLA , Shildrick characterizes the way in which state administered aid becomes an opportunity for oppressive surveillance;
  • The milieu he found on his return to France was itself highly politicized, in stark contrast to the relatively staid country he had left behind three years before;
  • Foucault, Abnormal 48 Insofar, as biopower seeks to invest the whole social field, observation and intervention must become increasingly detailed so as to invest life as completely as possible to the ultimate limit of death.

For example, in her critique of the questionnaire that determines eligibility for the Disability Living Allowance DLAShildrick characterizes the way in which state administered aid becomes an opportunity for oppressive surveillance: In this way, disabled people are made subject to the invasive examinations, surveillance, and objectification that are the hallmark and most obviously oppressive aspect of technologies of normalization.

Fiona Campbell argues that, more insidiously, legal proceedings depend on an "inherently negative" conception of disability that frames all disabled people as abject victims of a "personal tragedy" 109. Following Wendy Brown, Campbell argues legal proceedings reify and codify the interrelation of disability, dependency, and victimhood.

Most profoundly, they require "disabled people to trade in trade in, negotiate, and maintain" an identity of "social injury" 115. Rights discourse unavoidably appeals to legal processes and procedures that subjugate disabled people in the dual sense already cited from Foucault: A primary goal of disability activism is to contest the traditional view of disability as a private problem that should be fixed by adapting disabled bodies to a normalized society. It is thus ironic and tragic that the discourse of rights through which such claims have been advanced is, when viewed in light of Brown's analysis, a further mechanism of depoliticizing difference as private; appeals to rights and their codification may actually deepen the social injuries they to address.

Elias and Foucault’s ‘technologies of the self’

However, as I will argue further, it is important to recognize that these injuries are not simply injuries of exclusion. Though in one sense political claims for a "right to life" are rejected by disciplinary justice, in another sense these claims for a "right to life" are channeled, redirected, and quarantined within the productive apparatus of juridical and medical institutions.

A collective, political protest is referred and deferred to the site of the individual's confrontation with technologies of normalization. Technologies of Normalization [T]he norm is not at all defined as a natural law but rather by the exacting and coercive role it can perform in the domains in which it is applied.

The norm consequently lays claim to power … Canguilhem called it a polemical concept … The norm brings with a principle of both qualification and correction. The norm's function is not to exclude and reject. Rather, it is always linked to a positive technique of intervention and transformation, to a sort of normative project. Foucault, Abnormal 50 One of Foucault's teachers, Georges Canguilhem provides a helpful introduction into Foucault's analysis of the normalizing regime of truth.