21 February 1973

Part of the Michel Foucault book series (MFL)


I HAVE TRIED TO show the rise of a coercive system that in its nature and functioning was heterogeneous to the eighteenth-century penal system. We see this system operating in societies of moralization and in the game of lettres de cachet. This coercive system was gradually shifted in its points of application and instruments, and was taken over by the State apparatus at the end of the eighteenth century, and we can say that at the end of the first twenty years of the nineteenth century the State apparatus had, for the most part, taken over responsibility for the coercive system, which was in turn grafted onto the penal system, so that for the first time we have a penal system that is a penitentiary system. In short, we are dealing with something that I call the punitive society, that is to say a society in which the judicial State apparatus makes additional use of corrective and penitentiary functions. Such is the point of outcome.*


Eighteenth Century State Apparatus Lower Stratum Penal System Repressive System 
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  1. 5.
    See R. Musset, Le Bas-Maine. Étude géographique (Paris: Armand Colin, “Bibliothèque de la Foundation Thiers,” 1917)Google Scholar
  2. H. E. Sée, Les Origines du capitalisme moderne (Paris: A. Colin, “Collection Armand Colin: Section d’histoire et sciences économiques” 79, 1926) pp. 102–114Google Scholar
  3. F. Dornic, L’Industrie textile dans le Maine et ses débouchés internationaux (1650–1815) (Le Mans: Pierre-Belon, 1955)Google Scholar
  4. For a more recent publication, see R. Plessix, “Les tisserands du Haut-Maine à la fin du XVIIIe siècle,” Annales de Bretagne et des pays de l’Ouest, vol. 97 (3), 1990, pp. 193–205Google Scholar
  5. 18.
    See M. Foucault, “Il faut défendre la société”, lecture of 14 January 1976, pp. 28–30, see p. 30Google Scholar

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© Graham Burchell 2015

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