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Norms, Discipline, and the Law

Franois Ewald
In the tableau that concludes the first volume of The History of Sexuality , "Right of
Death and Power over Life," Michel Foucault develops the hypothesis that, ever since
antiquity, new mechanisms for the exercise of "bio-power"disciplines of the body and
attempts to regulate the populationhave developed in Western societies.[1] The
juridical mode of governance, characterized by forcible seizure, abduction, or repression
and usually culminating in death, is increasingly replaced by bio-power, "which aims to
produce, develop, and order social strength," a power that exerts a more positive
influence on life, undertaking to administer it, multiply it, and impose upon it a system
of regulations and precise inspection. Having noted that this transformation in the
mechanisms of power signifies "nothing less than the entry of life into history,"
Foucault concludes by suggesting that "another consequence of this development of biopower was the growing importance assumed by the action of the norm, at the expense of
the juridical system of the law."[2]
Foucault does not mean to suggest here that the development of bio-power is
accompanied by a decline of law. His further commentary makes it clear that the
formation of a normalizing society in no way diminished the power of law or caused
judicial institutions to disappear. In fact, normalization tends to be accompanied by an
astonishing proliferation of legislation. Practically speaking, legislators never expressed
themselves as freely or as extensively as in the age of bio-power. The norm, then, is
opposed not to law itself but to what Foucault would call "the juridical": the institution
of law as the expression of a sovereign's power. If, as Foucault puts it, "the law cannot
help but be armed," and if its weapon par excellence is death, this equation of law and
death does not derive from the essential character of the law. Law can also function by
formulating norms, thus becoming part of a different sort of power that "has to qualify,
measure, appraise, and hierarchize rather than display itself in its murderous
splendor."[3] In the age of bio-power, the juridical , which characterized monarchical
law, can readily be opposed to the normative , which comes to the fore most typically in
constitutions, legal codes, and the constant and clamorous activity of the legislature."[4]
Foucault's ideas have a dual consequence for the philosophy of law. They encourage us
to distinguish law and its formal expression from the juridical. The
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juridical served as a "code" that enabled monarchical power to constitute itself,
formalize its structure, and reflect upon its own workings. However, such a code is not
the only possible form the law can take. Neither the "regression of the juridical," which
accompanies the rise of bio-power, nor the fact that the most typical mechanisms of
juridical power can no longer be represented in legal form, necessarily signals the
disappearance of the law.
We can and must imagine a history of law that would give meaning and function to the
law's varying modes of formal expression. Foucault also compels us to reconsider what
we mean by norm , which he places among the arts of judgment. Undoubtedly the norm
is related to power, but it is characterized less by the use of force or violence than by an
implicit logic that allows power to reflect upon its own strategies and clearly define its
objects. This logic is at once the force that enables us to imagine life and the living as
objects of power and the power that can take "life" in hand, creating the sphere of the
bio-political.

Thus, in opposing the "action of the norm" to "the juridical system of law," Foucault
suggests two possible paths of inquiry. The first, to borrow Foucault's terminology, is
"ontological" and concerns modernity. It asks: What is modernity if we understand it as
participating in the logic of the norm? What can we learn about the modern by
approaching it in terms of the norm and the practices of power and knowledge
organized around the norm? The second concerns the shift in the relationship between
knowledge and power and its influence on the status and function of legal thought in
modern societies. Within the framework of "the regresson of the juridical," what is the
place of law? Is a theory or practice of law articulated around the norm possible? If so,
what form would such theory or practice take, and what would be the risks and
possibilities associated with them?
Georges Canguilhem has noted that etymology holds certain surprises and
disappointments for our contemporary understanding of the word norm : "When we
know that norm is the Latin word for T-square and that normalis means perpendicular,
we know almost all that must be known about the area in which the meaning of the
terms norm and normal originated."[5] Joachim Ritter's Historisches Wrterbuch der
Philosophie recalls the technical origin of the term. Vitruvius used it in his treatise On
Architecture to indicate the instrument used to draw right angles. Through metaphor, the
term would be taken up to designate the rule of law. Cicero, in particular, relies on the
Stoic reference to the architectural regularity of nature, speaking of nature as the "norm
of the law" (norma legis ). The norm had a long career as a synonym for the rule. Jean
Calvin, for example, writes in his Institutes of the Christian Religion : "God has
determined by His laws what is good and right, and by this means has meant to hold
men to a certain norm."
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However, at the beginning of the nineteenth century, there is a radical change in the
relationship between the rule and the norm. Norm can no longer stand simply as another
name for rule; rather, it comes to designate both a particular variety of rules and a way
of producing them and, perhaps most significantly of all, a principle of valorization. Of
course, the norm still refers to a standard measure that allows us to distinguish what is
in conformity with the rule from what is not, but this distinction is no longer directly
linked to the notion of rectitude. Its essential reference is no longer to the square but to
the average; the norm now refers to the play of oppositions between the normal and the
abnormal or pathological.
The vocabulary associated with the term expands as well: in French, normal is no
longer the only word to derive from norme . It is joined by normalit (1834), normatif
(1868), and normalisation (1920). This remarkable extension of the norm's domain will
affect a wide variety of fields concerned with economics and technology. It will also
have a major influence on the moral, juridical, and political sciences, which at the close
of the nineteenth century will establish themselves (particularly in Germany) as
"normative" sciences.
Thus, two centuries ago the word norm led a quiet, unremarkable existence, whereas
today, along with its panoply of derivations and associated terms, it has become one of
the most used and abused terms of our contemporary vocabulary, whether we speak
colloquially or as social scientists. We are intimidated by norms and contemplate them
suspiciously, feeling ashamed to consider ourselves simply normal. Psychologists and
sociologists have made persistent efforts to establish norms whose constraining effects

can be felt everywhereeven where we imagine our behavior to be least susceptible to


determination. In a sense, virtue has become normalized: the virtuous individual can
delude himself or herself into believing that he or she acts out of a sense of duty while
in reality simply making his or her behavior conform to a particular norm. Similarly,
health can be envisioned as the absence of illness, while in actuality it is merely a sign
of normal organic functioning. Even taste, which appears to be a product of purely
subjective aesthetic judgments, simply repeats internalized norms in the regularity of its
assessments. Public hygiene, urban planning, safety measures against pollution or
nuclear contamination, and quality control have all come about as the result of
normative decisions of one sort or another. What is the significance of this extension of
the normative, and what risks and potential benefits does it hold for the future?
One set of normative practices we might wish to examine in this context is what
Foucault has described as "disciplinary society." In Discipline and Punish , Foucault
suggests that the prison is in some sense the purest expression of the disciplinary order.
But this is not to say that he believed disciplinary society to be based on generalized
confinement. In fact, for Foucault the gradual spread of various disciplines (to the
factory, the school, the hospital, or the barracks) indicates that
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discipline is not primarily concerned with confinement, nor with the segregation of its
subject population. Rather, discipline tends not to divide or compartmentalize society
but works instead to create a homogeneous social space.
The norm is the principle that allows discipline to develop from a simple set of
constraints into a mechanism; it serves as the matrix that transforms the negative
restraints of the juridical into the more positive controls of normalization and helps to
produce the generalization of discipline. The norm is also the means through which the
disciplinary society communicates with itself. The norm relates the disciplinary
institutions of productionknowledge, wealth, and financeto one another in such a
way that they become truly interdisciplinary ; it provides a common language for these
various disciplines and makes it possible to translate from one disciplinary idiom into
another.
In Discipline and Punish , Foucault returns again and again to the idea that discipline
"produces" individuals. It not only manages them and makes use of them but actively
constitutes them as its object. Within the disciplinary framework, the norm participates
in this logic of individualization while also serving as the force that joins together the
individuals created by discipline and allows them to communicate with one another.
It is essential to avoid confusing the terms norm and discipline . Disciplines are
concerned with the body and its training, while the norm is a measurement and a means
of producing a common standard. Discipline is not necessarily normative. According to
Foucault, modernity coincides with the coming of a normative age. The normalization
of the various disciplines and the shift from discipline as constraint to discipline as a
regulatory mechanism are symptomatic of this change, as is the formation of a
disciplinary society founded on a new kind of social space that is supple, flexible,
homogeneous, and entirely self-contained.
Within the disciplinary order, the influence of the norm is primarily local; norms remain
attached to specific practices and institutions. With the appearance of insurance, the
norm will serve as a means of managing different kinds of actuarial populations,[6] while
with the institution of a Social Security system it will become a way to manage the
entire population of a given state. The shift here is from the level of the micro-

instrumental to that of the bio-political. Risk plays the same role in insurance that the
norm does in the constitution of disciplinary strategies. The conceptual category of risk,
which makes insurance possible, is the precise homologue of the disciplinary norm.
Insurance is an equivocal term that comprises 1) a technique for estimating risk in
actuarial terms; 2) the practices of restitution and indemnification of damages that set
this technique in motion; and 3) the institutions that structure public and private
insurance schemes. I intend to discuss only the firstthe techniques of risk.
What is risk ? In common parlance, the term is a synonym for danger, peril, or the
unexpected misfortunes that might happen to anyone; it also implies an
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objective threat of some sort. In insurance, risk refers neither to a specific occurrence
nor to a kind of event that might take place but instead to a way of treating certain
events that might happen to a particular group of individuals (a population). Nothing in
itself is a riskrisks have no real existence. By an inverse logic, anything can be a risk
everything depends on the way the danger is analyzed and the potential event is
evaluated. To adopt Kantian terminology, the category of risk is a category of
understanding; it cannot be derived from intuition or sensibility. As a technology of risk,
insurance is first of all a rational outline, a means of disassembling, reconstructing, and
organizing certain elements of reality.
Insurance is the practice of a specific type of rationality that formalizes the calculation
of probability. This explains why one can only be insured against risks, and why these
can be as various as death, accident, hail, illness, childbirth, military service, a business
failure, or litigation.[7] The insurer does not passively make note of actual risks in order
to insure people against them. Instead, he produces risks by making them visible and
comprehensible as such in situations where the individual would ordinarily see only the
unpredictable hazards of his or her particular fate.
Risk, then, is a principle of objectification. It confers a certain objective status on the
events of private, professional, or commercial life: death, accident, injury, loss, or
hazard. The task of insurance is to constitute a particular kind of objectivity; providing
various familiar events with a real existence that changes their character. Insurance
creates its own world; it confronts the world of lived experience (and all of its terrors)
with the more neutral and predictable world of risk. When the first insurers boasted
about the liberating effects of their statistical models, or explained that the dangers we
fear are really nothing but risks we can take steps to protect ourselves against, they
were, of course, speaking as advertisers. Still, their arguments rested on the idea of a
very fundamental transformation of the world.
Risk is both objective and objectifying. This arises through the exercise of a rigorously
positivistic attitude. Insurance has two bases: first, the statistical table or graph that
testifies to the regular occurrence of certain events; second, the calculation of
probabilities that are then applied to these statistics so that one can evaluate the
possibility of these same events. The insurance view of the world is firmly grounded in
probability and statistics. It is generally admitted that modern science took its definitive
form at the time of the Scientific Revolution in the seventeenth century. One might also
speak of an analogous probabilistic revolution of the nineteenth century, one that
radically transformed contemporary notions of such familiar ideas as "fact," "law," and
"cause."[8] Like the Galilean revolution before it, the probabilistic revolution was
received with its fair share of resistance, debate, and utter incomprehension. Some of
the best-known examples of resis-

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tance were Auguste Comte's or Jean-Baptiste Say's opposition to the use of probability
in the social sciences. Other examples include the general philosophical condemnation
of probability on the grounds that it would introduce into history an element of
determinism that was altogether incompatible with liberty, or the endless legal debates
during the nineteenth century over the relative merits of fault and risk as causes of
responsiblity.
By the standards of an earlier world (in which we still live, at least to some extent), the
insurer, like the statistician, is most remarkable for his rigorous suspension of judgment.
For him, events are facts with distinct boundaries in space and timethey are complete
in themselves and have no cause, or past, or future. They are individuals, pure atoms
that persistently leave their trace on the surface of the world. They do not signify; they
simply are . They can barely be described, and their identity is reduced to the numerical
quality that allows one to tabulate them as a point or a unit.
The statistician must begin by bracketing the usual systems of signification and should
remain instead at that unclear boundary where a coherent vision of the world threatens
to disappear beneath the infinite residues of facts and events. Similarly, the insurer who
initially notes the fact of an accident or a death is altogether indifferent to its cause. It
matters little that a specific accident might have been avoidable, or that a particular
individual will bear historical responsibility for a given event. The important thing
about events is that they occur, or rather that their occurrence is repetitive, multiple, and
regular. They become purely accidental, and are rendered objective by comparison with
themselves. For the purposes of statistics, they remain without victims and without a
cause, at least initially.
To put the matter sceptically, what is at issue here is the possibility of freeing oneself
from the usual play of signification by concentrating on the pure factuality of facts, the
pure recording of occurrences. In Kantian terms, the task for the insurer and the
statistician alike is to restrict himself or herself to a single level of intuition, locating and
comprehending facts exclusively in terms of their temporal and spatial situation, without
appealing to a more comprehensive system of understanding. The world as perceived
for statistical ends makes no sense . It is reduced to a pure accumulation of facts, data
that accumulate randomly with no prospect of ever signifying as individual bits of
information. To the extent that the usual system of signification has been suspended, all
facts, even the most insignificant, are worthy of note.
Only the science of probability allows these data to signify. In the logic of probability,
sense can emerge from this undifferentiated mass of data without any need for reference
to a world outside that of pure surfaces and pure factuality, where pieces of information
of indeterminate value repeat and accumulate. For statistical thought, numbers by
themselves create meaning. The notion
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of mass replaces such evaluative concepts as nature or essence. In the social and moral
world, presumably the sphere of free agency, there are observable regularities, constants
of social life (marriage, crime, suicide, and so on) whose causes remain obscure. Before
the triumph of statistics, it was still possible to invoke the workings of divine
Providence, or to seek some other sufficient cause that would explain otherwise
inexplicable phenomena, as though the regularity of certain events could be explained
by recourse to some invisible logic of causality. But probabilistic thinking makes this

specular doubling altogether unnecessary; in statistics, facts lose their status as natural
signs or indices of some higher meaning. They refer back to nothing but themselves.
The visible world is no longer a translation of an invisible world of essences. Only the
repetition of a particular social fact, its multiple occurrences, can give it meaning.
According to this logic, the more frequently a particular sort of event occurs
statistically, the more real it becomes. The weight and number of occurrences bring
social facts into existence. Inversely, a single exceptional event counts for less in
statistical terms because it occurs so rarely. The calculation of probability, then,
functions as a ruse of reason: even though causes remain unknown and unknowable,
they do translate into effect. By seizing upon effects, this kind of calculation allows us
to determine the laws that govern the recurrence of events without ever grasping the
causes behind them.
Facts are still organized in categories with distinct names: birth, death, accident, suicide,
size. However, this is a particularly nominalist use of the category, for these categories
make no reference to any explanatory principle. They are simply sets of groupings
open-ended collections of randomly occurring facts that are never identical to one
another. The statistical category brings together diverse variables on the basis of their
resemblance or potential equivalence; it serves as a principle of classification rather than
as an identifying denomination.
According to the logic of statistics, then, an accident is no longer a simple misfortune
that happens to someone; instead, it takes on a real existence of its own. Similarly, man
no longer exists as an entity that can be explained in terms of human nature, nor does he
exist anywhere within the multiplicity of living men. Rather, "man" appears in the
qualities that can be attributed to him, which have taken on lives of their own: size,
weight, or strength. The characteristics of a particular individual are lost in the midst of
those of many other individuals. In a sense, the particular individual with a specific size
and weight no longer exists. Only the standard size and weight of a population of
individuals who constitute a pool of human qualities continues to have a real existence.
The meaning and import of this strange blending of traits, this peculiar statistical
surgery is perhaps most evident in Alphonse Quetelet's attempts to construct a theory of
the "average man," which he formulates in at least three places in his work. The project
grows directly out of a sense of the significance of averages:
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By gathering together a number of individuals of the same age and sex and taking the
average of a set of their constant measurements, one obtains a series of constant figures
that I would attribute to a fictional entity I call the average man for this group. If we
were to note, for example, the size of every twenty-five-year-old Frenchman and find
the average, the number we obtained would be the size of the average twenty-five-yearold man.[9]
Thus defined, the average man is a "fictional entity": there is no actual twenty-five-yearold Frenchman who could be the average man. The average man can also be a typical
example of man at a particular moment in time in a specific place:
Everything occurs as if there existed in nature particular types suited to a given country
and the environmental circumstances in which they find themselves. Variants on these
types come into being accidentally with equal frequency as augmentations or
diminutions of the essential characteristics of a type. Suppose that we have a sufficiently
large sample population: the average man for each age would find himself flanked on
both sides by equal numbers of individuals, some larger and some smaller. Moreover,

the groups would be distributed regularly in order of size. The largest groups would be
composed of those who were closest to the mean, while the smallest groups would be
those most distant from the mean. The further one gets from the average, the smaller the
groups that represent this difference, and, at the extreme limits of the distribution,
giants, like dwarves, are quite rare. However, these extreme cases are not anomalous
in fact, they are necessary to complete the ascending and descending series determined
by the law of randomness. Each group has its own specific value and place. Thus when
men are thrust together in society and their various sizes come together in the most
unlikely combinations, there is between them a mysterious link that allows us to
consider each individual as a necessary part of a whole which has no physical existence
and escapes us in the individual instance, and which can only be perceived through the
eyes of science.[10]
We may note that in this second version, too, the average man remains a fiction:
"Everything occurs as if . . . ," writes Quetelet. Of course, the law of randomness makes
it apparent that something corresponds to this fiction: not a real individual who
incarnates the social mean but the typical man for that society; not a model or original
that serves as the standard for all men but the reference point common to them all. This
point of reference provides them with a kind of "natural" identity and suggests that laws
of man do exist. Finally, according to Quetelet,
The man I am considering is, in society, the analogue of the center of gravity within a
body; he is the mean around which various social elements move. He is a fictional being
for whom all things occur in accordance with the average expectations for the society in
question. . . . This determination of the average man is not merely an idle pursuit;
knowledge of social averages can serve an important purpose for the human and social
sciences. The study of averages is a necessary precursor to any research into social
physics, for it serves as the foundation of such study. . . . Only by taking [the average
man] into account can we truly appreciate the phenomena of social equilibrium and
movement.[11]
The average man, then, is not an individual whose place in society is indeterminate or
uncertain; rather, he is society itself as it sees itself objectified in the
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mirror of probability and statistics. There is not a trace of realism in Quetelet's account
of the average man. The average man is at once the entity that permits scientific
judgment of man and the necessary correlate of that judgment. Once human nature loses
its metaphysical status, individuals can be judged only with reference to the social and,
more precisely, with reference to the average man.
The theory of the average man, then, is simply a newand altogether modernmeans
of individualizing the members of a population. This is what we mean today when we
make reference to norms and the normal. The notion of the average man corresponds to
a new way of judging individualsthe only way that is scientifically possible, in fact:
Quetelet writes,
I have always felt it to be impossible to estimate the degree of courage, or what we must
regard as such, contained in the acts of an isolated individual, for what standard of
measurement could we possibly adopt for such a quantity? Would we observe this
individual for a long enough time and in sufficient depth to take into account all of his
actions and estimate the relative value of these acts of courage? What tribunal could
possibly pass judgment on these actions, and would there be a large enough number of
them for us to reach a satisfactory conclusion? Who could guarantee that in the course

of these observations, the individual in question did not undergo some major change?
When we work with a large number of individuals, these problems disappear almost
entirely, particularly if we mean only to understand something about the relations
between them and nothing of a more absolute nature.[12]
With his theory of the average man, Quetelet proposes a means of specifying
individuals with reference to their position within a group, rather than by paying close
attention to their essence, their nature, or their ideal state of being. The theory of the
average man, then, is an instrument that makes it possible to understand a population
with respect only to itself, and without recourse to some external defining factor.
The insurer's "risk" (an objective principle based on calculation and distributions)
corresponds directly with the notion of the average man outlined in Quetelet's social
physics. The concept of risk makes no reference to nature (as in a metaphysics) or to
morality (according to some ideal notion of what man should do or be). Instead it allows
the group to make social judgments with respect to itself in a way that always reflects
the current state of society and is based on normative, rather than prescriptive,
evaluation.
Risk is at once calculable and collective, and these two characteristics are dependent
upon one another. Accidents and misfortune are individual occurrences, but risk is a
profoundly social phenomenon. Moreover, risk can only be calculated for an entire
population. The task of the insurer is to constitute this population through a process of
selection and division of risks. Insurance socializes risk, transforming each individual
into a part of a whole. The function of insurance is to constitute mutuality, consciously
in the case of mutual societies and less consciously in the case of anonymous companies
with premiums.
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Insurance is therefore more than a scheme that allows individuals to protect themselves
against loss for a small fee because of the benefits of mutuality. Reducing it thusly
makes it indistinguishable from more primitive forms of mutual aid and solidarity such
as the confraternity or the corporation. The central characteristic of insurance is not that
it spreads out the cost of individual damages over a large group, but that it provides a
justification for this kind of division that has no basis in charity or fellow feeling and is
based on a rule of justice, a rule of law. According to Eugne Reboul,
Insurance is the application to human affairs of the rule of possibilities that determines
the fate of individuals apart from society before chance has made its own division
among them and disposed of the common fund of property according to its own logic.
So that equity is preserved, each person must take upon himself a proportional part of
the risk that may bring him good fortune or mishap.[13]
This "proportional part" defines risk for the insurer. The abstract principle behind this
reasoning is that the natural distribution of luck and misfortune, i.e., chance, is
fundamentally just. Chance must be allowed to play out its whims, and it is up to
individuals to protect themselves as they are able to.
Legal judgments were traditionally based on an attempt to discover the cause of
damagesit was essential to find out whether damages were the result of an
unpredictable natural event or whether they could be attributed to a particular person or
institution who would then be required to bear responsibility for the damages. The
insurance system, by contrast, proposes an entirely different idea of justice: causality is
superceded by the notion of a distribution of a collective burden according to a fixed

rule that determines the contribution of each individual. Insurance then offers a new
rule of justice that refers no longer back to nature but rather to the existence of the
group, a social rule of justice that the group is free to determine for itself, and on its
own terms.
At the close of the nineteenth century in industrial Europe, the technology of risk and
the institution of social insurance form the basis for a new way of thinking about
politics. Insurance becomes social, not so much because new kinds of risk have come
into being but because society has come to understand itself and its problems in terms of
the principles of the technology of risk. At the end of the nineteenth century, the term
insurance designates both a set of institutions and the structure that orders the regulation
and functioning of modern society.
This account presupposes the establishment of new relationships between the notions of
insurance and the state. Insurance is not imagined simply as an institution or system
within the state for which the state must provide an order or organizing principle; rather,
the state can now be conceived of in terms of the actuarial view of society. Insurance is
no longer a simple subordinate function of the state but an essential part of the state's
organization that affects its very naturethe state itself becomes a vast system of social
insurance.
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The institution of the prison as the universal penalty for crime at the beginning of the
nineteenth century marks, in Foucauldian terms, the birth of a "disciplinary society,"
one whose organization obeys the logic of the norm at the level of micro-power.
Likewise, the growth of the insurance industry during the nineteenth century, along with
the beginnings of social insurance and the development of large-scale social welfare
systems, marks the birth of the "insurance society," in which the norm functions
similarly.
In its technical sense, the term normalization does not refer to the production of objects
that all conform to a type. Rather, it involves "providing reference documents for the
resolution of standard technical and commercial problems that recur in the course of
interchange between economic, technical, scientific and social partners."[14]
Normalization, then, is less a question of making products conform to a standard model
than it is of reaching an understanding with regard to the choice of a model. The
Encyclopaedia Britannica stipulates in its article on standardization that "a standard is
that which has been selected as a model to which objects or actions may be compared.
In every case a standard provides a criterion for judgment." Normalization is thus the
production of norms, standards for measurement and comparison, and rules of
judgment. Norman F. Harriman writes, "A standard may be concisely defined as a
criterion, measure or example, of procedure, process, dimension, extent, quantity,
quality, or time, which is established by an authority, custom, or general consent, as a
definite basis of reference or comparison."[15] Implicit within the concept of
normalization is the notion of a principle for measurement that would serve as a
common standard, a basic principle of comparison. Normalization produces not objects
but procedures that will lead to some general consensus regarding the choice of norms
and standards. This definition of normalization lends a certain paradoxical allure to the
history of the term. Normalization is a practice that only became aware of itself as such
at the start of the twentieth century; the term itself dates from this period (1928), as do

the first national and international organizations concerned with the establishment of
norms.[16]
To those who first worked on normalization, the concept appeared as a sort of universal
ordering principle. All the institutions that make society possible, no matter how
primitive, such as language, writing, money, instruments of measurement, habits and
customs, all suddenly seemed to derive, at least in retrospect, from practices of
normalization.[17] The normalizing process had accompanied humanity in every stage of
its development. It served a primary social function by regularizing human conduct and
by facilitating both technical progress and communication. No social object could
escape normalization, and society would be inconceivable without it, for norms and
standardization had always played an essential role in social development. Above all,
though, normalization played an
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essential part in the constitution of systems of communicationthe norm is what
transformed linguistic signs into a common language. There was thus a certain
reciprocity between society and the norm, and between the norm and language. Thus,
the modern exponents of normalization viewed normalization as a basic principle of
socialization. There can be no society, they argued, without norms, codes, common
standards of measurement, and basic principles of communication. Technical
normalization was simply a question of constituting a society of producers and
consumers and providing it with a common language and common institutions.
One basic difference between technical normalization and earlier forms of socialization
lay in the fact that modern normalization was self-consciously and actively willed rather
than simply tolerated or accepted, as in earlier periods. Where the population had once
been passively subjected to the norm, now certain elements within it were actively
seeking to direct and manage the process of normalization.[18] This was a global
development that concerned not only individual producers or sectors of production but
the activity of production itself and with it the activity of consumption.
The systematic character of technical normalization differentiates it from earlier
processes to which it has some resemblancefor example, the Venetian ship-building
industry, which from the sixteenth century onward was organized according to the
principle of the division of labor.[19] Technical normalization has another genealogy
entirely. Normalization is the language of the engineer, and its successful integration as
a part of modern institutions marks the moment when this technical language could
attain to the status of a common language. The institutions of normalization all grew out
of associations of mechanical and electrical engineers that were founded during the
second half of the nineteenth century in every industrialized nation.[20] One line of
ancestry for the idea of normalization therefore lies in the scientific and technological
transformations that accompanied industrialization. Normalization took on a real
institutional existence with the creation of the first official bureaus of norms and
standards during the First World War.
The demands of wartime production were a second point of origin for normalization
movements, since coordinated production, interchangeability of parts, and compatibility
of products are all dependent on the establishment of norms.[21] In the period
immediately following the war, normalization appeared to be an inevitable requirement
of production in the modern world, and seemed to imply a general peacetime
mobilization of the population. Future industrial and economic productivity all seemed
to depend on normalization, and industrial leaders saw it as an inescapable necessity.

Thus normalization became something more than a technique to be adopted or neglected


at will. Instead, it began to appear as the essential structure that would provide the
framework for production and exchange everywhere in the
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world. Herein lies the third line of ancestry for normalization: it is both economic and
sociological. The demand for normalization in industry indicates an increasing
awareness among industrialists that they form a society, and that this society requires its
own language, its own codes, and its own specific forms of regulation. The technical
normalization movement in industry signals the moment when industrialists and
government officials begin to recognize that industrial growth, the appearance of new
needs, and mass consumption all contribute to the creation of a new productive system
that is distinct from its predecessors not only in terms of its techniques and productive
capacities but also in terms of its instruments of communication and its rules.
It is essential to distinguish between the functions and objectives of normalization and
its techniques. The functions of normalization are well known: simplification,
unification, and specification.[22] Simplification involves reducing the number of models
for objects, choosing between products that resemble each other too closely, and
eliminating any superfluous models. Unification means establishing fixed
characteristics of objects so that objects are compatible and interchangeable.
Specification is a process of reaching a precise understanding about standards for the
quality of manufactured products. All of these functions are part of a larger program for
rationalizing production by reducing waste, regularizing production so as to minimize
the effects of economic fluctuation, and adapting production to demand as efficiently as
possible.[23] In other words, one of the aims of technical normalization is to gain a
certain measure of control over time.
Industrial normalization cannot be reduced to the pursuit of these objectives alone,
however, for the essential thing here is the technique that makes it possible. Despite the
tendency of contemporary authors to insist that there are many different kinds of norms
terminological norms, norms for spatial measurement, and qualitative normsany
one of these varieties of norm would be inconceivable without the others.[24] This mutual
interdependence of norms can be explained by the fact that what is really being
normalized is language. Normalization begins with vocabulary:
The first thing to develop when one begins to examine a particular problem is a means
of specifying terms precisely: there must be a single term for each thing and a single
meaning for each term. . . . Equally, since the elaboration of norms clearly determines
technical terminology, product nomenclature, and the forms of symbolic representation
in diagrams, establishing a set of standard terminological points of reference is the first
task in the process of normalization.[25]
This normalization of vocabulary extends even to systems for notation and writing: the
signs and locutions that characterize common usage are less than ideal for the purpose
of precise technical expression. Words are soon joined by numbers and drawings that
are themselves normalized.
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Linguistic normalization also encompasses syntax. The language of normalization has
its own grammar and logic. This normalized language serves a specific mode of thought
that it must both call forth and translate: it comprises a style of analysis, and a way of
categorizing and breaking down objects, tasks, and needs, at once segmenting them and

individualizing them. At the same time that it fabricates a language, normalization


serves as a principle of objectification and a producer of objectivity.[26] This artificial
language serves to prevent ambiguities. It is a language of precision and certainty, a
language without puns, stylistic figures, or interferencethe language of perfect
communication. However, the language of technical normalization also implies the
institution of a new relationship between words and things.
Fundamentally, normalization is the process of turning this language, with its
vocabulary and syntax, into a common language, a general principle of communication
that functions in much the same way as the system of thought that it expresses. This
language must function not only within the limited context of a single industry but
within the sphere of relations between various industries, and in the field of relations
between producers and consumers. Within this language, the demands of buyers, sellers,
producers, and consumers must all be expressed, refigured, and readjusted with respect
to one another. Normalization establishes the language that allows these different groups
to understand one another and to form a society.[27] Its central projects are to institute
new common standards of measurement while searching for appropriate rules of
analysis and expression, and to teach this language to all those who are involved in one
way or another in the system of economic exchange.
Normalization is thus the institution of the perfect common language of pure
communication required by industrial society. But what will this language say, and what
will be its content? What makes these new norms anything more than a precise and
perfected version of communicational tools that have already been in existence for some
time? How does one evaluate the requirements of this language, and its performance in
communicationin other words, what is the norm for industrial normalization? One of
the specific characteristics of technical normalization is that requirements and
performance are defined according to principles of relativity and solidarity. In terms of
industrial normalization, the measure of a productive norm is a norm for consumption
and vice versa.[28] Normalization forces each individual to imagine the ordering
principle behind his activity not only with respect to some ideal of perfection that he
might attain in isolation (such an ideal isolation has no meaning in a normative system),
but with respect to a determined need that must be satisfied. Normalization is a means
of organizing that solidarity which makes each individual the mirror and measure of his
fellow.
For Harriman, "The idea of perfection is not involved in standardization."[29] In place of
perfection is the "one best," or the relative best, with reference to
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industrial capabilities and economic capacities, specific uses and requirements.
Normalization is a means of assigning value that renders absolute standards of
perfection meaningless.[30] The good is figured in terms of adequacythe good product
is adequate to the purpose it was meant to serve. Within the normative system, values
are not defined a priori but instead through an endless process of comparison that is
made possible by normalization. The norm is the best relational principle. It expresses a
compromise: the compromise among norms in accord with the general principle of
normative solidarity, the compromise between technical capability and industrial
capacity, or the compromise between production and need. Technical normalization, or
standardization, provides an example of valorization that makes no reference to
universals, where equilibrium has replaced the absolute as the value of values. A
standard may become stable or regular, but it is only temporarily so. The standard is a

form of compromise, the common denominator, a point of reference that is destined to


disappeara measurement that expresses the relation of a group to itself, even that of a
group as large as the entire population of the globe.
These different properties become apparent once again in the procedures for
establishing standards. Standardization is not a form of legislation, nor is it a process
that can be carried out by decree. In other words, standardization is not a state function.
Rather, it presupposes the creation of associations where all interested participants
producers, consumers, engineers, scientistscan negotiate the common standard
according to their respective requirements. There is a kind of democracy specific to the
standardization process.[31] In general, this democracy functions on two levels: on the
first are the organizations that represent the various kinds of productive activity and are
competent to decide upon standards; on the second are the organizations of
standardizing associations that verify the compatibility of various norms among
themselves according to the principle that "standards must form a perfectly unified
whole."[32] This principle makes standardization into an infinite task.
Discipline, insurance, and standardization ought not to be conflated. However, all three
practices can be subsumed under the term norm . How can we think about the
relationships between them, then? How might comparison of them clarify our
conception of the norm? It is worth noting at the outset that each of these three sets of
practices is marked by a tendency to relentless proliferation: discipline becomes
normative as it becomes generalized and as it shifts from negative to positive
functioning, and the logic of the norm is what makes this generalization possible.
Ever since its legally problematic debut at the start of the nineteenth century, the
insurance industry and its spheres of influence have expanded almost incessantly. Today
there is scarcely a social problem that is not dealt with in terms of
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risk: public hygiene, health issues, pollution, social maladjustment, and delinquency
have all come to make sense in insurance terms. Social security has also helped to make
insurance the essential form of social relations. Technical normalization, too, seems to
require extensive development: normalizing a product means normalizing both
production techniques and the needs to be satisfied by production.
These normative procedures are implicated in a process of expansion that only stops
when each has exhausted the possibilities for further extending its jurisdiction. They are
also related to one another, however, in such a way that each pulls the others into a kind
of normative spiral. Modern techniques for managing accidents in the workplace
provide a good example of this: the insurance industry's way of coping with accidents
resulted in the birth of a science of workplace safety, ergonomics, which is clearly
related to the development of scientific organization and management principles. The
demands of social hygiene certainly benefited the industrialization of construction,
which was itself taken over and encouraged by the development of construction
insurance. We might also chart the structure of normative networks, and in so doing we
would gradually come to see how a norm on one level is related to a norm on another, a
safety norm to a normative level of performance, for example, or a disciplinary norm to
a productive norm, or a productive norm to a norm of population. "Norms," explains
Canguilhem, "are relative to each other in a system, at least potentially. Their
correlativity within a social system tends to make this system into an organization, that
is, a unity in itself, if not by itself and for itself."[33]

Just as norms can only exist socially, there can be no such thing as a norm that exists in
isolation, for a norm never refers to anything but other norms on which it depends.
Norms communicate among themselves, shifting from one level or field of their
existence to another according to a kind of modular logic. The norm finds meaning only
in relation to other norms: only a norm can provide a normative value for another norm.
The paradox of the norm is that before one can exist, there must already be another. If a
norm exists, the entire space in which it appears becomes a normative space. Thus it
would be an error to say that The History of Sexuality , which extended the scope of the
normative to the state and the populations within its jurisdiction, continues or completes
Discipline and Punish , which merely situated the normative at the level of discipline.
This displacement is part of the logic of the norm. When the norm appears, it establishes
itself necessarily as an order: the normative order that characterizes modern societies.
This correlative quality of norms provides us with a methodological insight: it is
essential to distinguish between the norm itself and the apparatus, institution, or
technique of power that brings it into action and functions according to its principles.
The norm (or the normative) is no more specific to discipline than it is to insurance or
standardization. The norm in particular cannot be characterized as the exertion of a
punctilious or minute form of power or imagined in
154
terms of the microphysics of its engagements. Norms are linked neither by scale (macro
or micro) nor by the characteristics of their objects, whether they are bodies,
populations, or things. Hence the ubiquity of the normative, which can no longer be
confused with the exercise of power that it informs. If power is exerted according to a
set of physical constraints, the norm falls within the province of a metaphysics of
power.
What, then, is a norm? It is a way for a group to provide itself with a common
denominator in accordance with a rigorous principle of self-referentiality, with no
recourse to any kind of external reference point, either in the form of an idea or an
object. The normative process can obey a variety of different logics: the panoptical logic
of discipline, the probabilistic schema of insurance, or the communicative logic of the
technical norm. These three logics have the same form: in each case, the rule which
serves as a norm, by virtue of which everyone can measure, evaluate, and identify
himself or herself, will be derived from those for whom it will serve as a standard. A
strange logic, this, which forces the group to turn back in upon itself and which, from
the moment it establishes itself, will let no one escape its purview.
The norm implies a rule of judgment, as well as a means of producing that rule. It is a
principle of communication, a highly specific means of resolving the problem of
intersubjectivity. The norm is equalizing; it makes each individual comparable to all
others; it provides the standard of measurement. Essentially, we are all alike and, if not
altogether interchangeable, at least similar, never different enough from one another to
imagine ourselves as entirely apart from the rest. If the establishment of norms implies
classification, this is primarily because the norm creates classes of equivalency.
But the norm can also work to create inequalities. This is, in fact, the only objectivity
that it provides: the norm invites each one of us to imagine ourselves as different from
the others, forcing the individual to turn back upon his or her own particular case, his or
her individuality and irreducible particularity. More precisely, the norm affirms the
equality of individuals just as surely as it makes apparent the infinite differences among
them. The reality of normative equality is that we are all comparable; the norm is most

effective in its affirmation of differences, discrepancies, and disparities. The norm is not
totalitarian but individualizing; it allows individuals to make claims on the basis of their
individuality and permits them to lead their own particular lives. However, despite the
strength of various individual claims, no one of them can escape the common standard.
The norm is not the totality of a group forcing constraints on individuals; rather, it is a
unit of measurement, a pure relationship without any other supports.
Normative practices, based on the notions of equality and the common standard, are
compatible with the existence of a certain kind of law. The normative allows us to
understand how communication remains possible even within a historical moment
characterized by the end of universal values. The norm is a means
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of producing social law, a law constituted with reference to the particular society it
claims to regulate and not with respect to a set of universal principles. More precisely,
when the normative order comes to constitute the modernity of societies, law can be
nothing other than social.
This kind of law possesses two remarkable qualities: first, it is no longer based on a
model in which the law emanates from a sovereign will. In a normative order, there is
no room for the sovereign. No one can pretend to be the subject that establishes the
norm; norms are created by the collectivity without being willed by anyone in particular.
The norm is the group's observation of itself; no one has the power to declare it or
establish it. Undoubtedly, the norm gives the group a certain sovereignty over itself, but
that sovereignty does not derive from a contract. Although it presents itself as an
expression of the general will, legislative sovereignty within the normative order is
mere appearance, a form or fiction necessary to ensure the community's respect for the
common standard.
Secondly, although there can be a parliament within a normative orderand practically
speaking, there are usually many, since they have a tendency to multiplythere is no
legislator. This position is empty, and definitively so. The law is no longer valid as an
expression of the general will or the common interest. Rather, it is valid by virtue of its
normative quality. Parliament no longer establishes the fundamental principles of law; it
can only set forth regulations. A normative economy of obligations allows us to imagine
a law without obligations or sanctions. The supporters of technical normalization have
made it amply clear that whenever a regulation is propounded, a norm has been
negotiated. The validity of a norm derives from the fact that it is not imposed from
outside but that it observes itself without requiring obedience. Within a normative space,
constraint is more of an obstacle than an aid. At the United Nations, for example,
arguments have been made for "resolutions" and "recommendations" that do not have
the binding force of treaties and serve instead as points of reference for evaluating the
conduct of states. Of course, they are most effective when they express a consensus.
More precisely, these resolutions and recommendations are the expression of norms.
The norm eliminates within law the play of vertical relations of sovereignty in favor of
the more horizontal relations of social welfare and social security.
The norm, then, is a means of producing the common standard, a rule for common
judgement that makes law possible in modern societies. It functions within the bounds
of three defining conditions.

The first involves the constitution of a homogeneous field of positive values. The norm
makes visible and records only the sheer phenomenality of phenomena. The normative
gaze does not seek to penetrate to the inner substance of things. Instead, it remains on
the level of pure facticity, never going beyond
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this to attain a deeper appreciation of its objects. Facts are sufficient in themselves; they
simply exist, neither as appearance nor as essence. Processing them is not a question of
unmasking them or interpreting them because for the normative way of seeing, a fact
refers to other facts and not to an original cause. Thus, in the normative order one
simply moves from one visible surface to another, indefinitely.
This positivism based on pure facts is fundamental to the normative order. It allows the
norm to appear as both a principle of objectivity and as a common language. If there
were a norm for the norm, it would be this rigorous positivism of exteriority. The
normative institution presupposes a dual decision that functions in both a negative and a
positive sense. In its negative formulation, the language of the norm assumes that it is
always possible to distinguish facts from their interpretations. From the normative point
of view, all interpretation is subjective; all explanation, opinion, and theory are simply
forms of metaphysics. In its positive formulation, the normative allows for
communication that is independent of all philosophical or religious conviction. Within
the realm of the norm, faith and knowledge are definitively separated. The category of
the normative itself presupposes the creation of a purely descriptive language in which
syntax and vocabulary would always succeed in containing the slippage of meaning that
occurs in metaphor. If the possibility of secular politics is founded on the constitution of
a sphere of objective interpretation, then the norm is eminently secular.
As I have suggested earlier in this essay, norms are anything but natural; facts are never
simply given. It is essential to distinguish between facts and their interpretations, and
statistical probability has played a major role in establishing this distinction. In this
respect, the science of statistics resembles the language of the norm both in its
vocabulary and its syntax. It also functions as a common language because it produces
objectivity independent of any doctrine. Of course, there can be no objectivity without
objectification. Statistics and probability are techniques of objectification that produce
facts whose objectivity, liberated from all metaphysics, can function as a common
language. This is not to say that either one is neutral, or that there are such things as
pure facts, but simply that they create the possibility of objectivity.
The second characteristic of the norm is its relativity . This directly contradicts the idea
that the norm represents some kind of absolute . A norm is a self-referential standard of
measurement for a given group; it can make no pretense to bind anyone for an indefinite
period, as a law can. This is not to say that norms are ephemeral, for they are
enormously durable. But they are also inconstant, almost by definition. In the eyes of
the business community, this capacity for adaptation and flexible response to changing
conditions makes normalization superior to laws or regulations as a management
technique. Part of the norm's value derives from the fact that it is so completely timebound.
Similarly, the norm can never be universal. Ever since the work of Emile
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Durkheim, both sociology and cultural ethnology have repeatedly returned to the idea
that the validity of a norm can never extend beyond the bounds of the group which that

norm describes. As Durkheim notes, "A fact can be termed pathological only in relation
to a given species. . . . It can only be termed normal in relation to a particular phase,
likewise determinate of its development."[34] The same holds true for biological norms:
standards of health are not the same for everyone, and those suitable for adults would be
less so for small children or elderly people. Because norms are relative, it makes no
sense to apply a particular set of norms established for one group to other unrelated
groups or cases.
The relativity of norms has often been interpreted to their detriment, as though the fact
that normative rules bear the marks of their historical context were enough to make
them invalid. Relativity does not necessarily imply relativism. If a norm's sphere of
validity cannot extend beyond the bounds of the group that establishes it in the first
place, this is precisely because norms are neither equivalent nor interchangeable. In
short, there is system of valorization specific to norms that is altogether unrelated to the
Kantian criteria for value.
Finally, norms involve polarity. Canguilhem has commented that the relationship
between the normal and the abnormal is not "a relationship of contradiction and
externality, but one of inversion and polarity."[35] As we have already observed, the
abnormal is not outside the realm of the normal; the division between the normal and
the abnormal occurs on the basis of inclusion rather than exclusion. However, if the
normal and the abnormal can only be distinguished along a continuous spectrum of
possibilities, are real distinctions even possible?
This is the biological problem of deciding on the status of the anomalous. Recalling
Canguilhem once again, we are reminded that anomalies are part of the normal in much
the same way that mutation is an essential part of biological life.[36] Just as in statistics,
there are never any real constantsonly differences of various sorts. But if the norm is
based on variation, how can we describe one particular sort of variation as abnormal?
Biological anomalies can be considered abnormal less because they diverge from an a
priori model of their type than because the anomalous individual will experience his or
her difference as a handicap or obstacle in the business of life. If all possible forms are
not normal, it is not because some forms are naturally impossible but because the
various possible forms of existence are not all equivalent for those who must exist in
them.[37] The separation between the normal and the abnormal occurs at the point in the
relationship between a living entity and its environment where equilibrium is
completely disrupted, and the distance between environmental requirements and
individual performance becomes too great. If environmental requirements change,
performance does too, and along with them the location of the boundary between the
normal and the abnormal.
We can also explain the normative assignment of value in politics on the basis of these
ideas. Social groups impose demands of various sorts (e.g., industrial or
158
educational demands) that serve as the standard by which individual performance is
measured and that allow individuals to be classified and placed in a hierarchy.
Abnormality is defined as a handicap or inability. It no longer refers to a natural quality
or property of being; instead, it signals some aspect of the group's relation to itself. The
relationship between the normal and the abnormal thus becomes an unstable threshold.
At the same time, the political stakes in the fixation of this boundary become
increasingly apparent. Opposition to a particular technique and the demands associated
with it implies a will to modify the threshold for exclusion. Inversely, debate over the

frontiers of the normal and the abnormal is meaningless in the absence of some effort to
alter the social conditions that have produced the boundary.
The normative society is a strange one: like all other societies, it excludes various
individuals and groups, but its tactics for exclusion in no way imply any kind of natural
prejudice. It has its own demands, which are never natural and always social. In
normative societies, political life is always highly polemical and concerned primarily
with the establishment of a balance between the various claims of individuals and
groups, a stable social state. The achievement of specific ends is less important than the
maintenance and negotiation of this state, since in the normative society social good and
stability are one and the same.
To the extent that norms are unstable, one might object that they cannot function either
as a common standard or as a precondition for law. After all, how can a rule serve as a
common reference if it is constantly changing and can offer no security to those who
will have to make decisions based on it? Doesn't a rule have to be fixed, unchanging,
and outside the influence of those who are going to use it? Can a law whose rules are
constantly changing still be considered a law?
The norm is that which, as a rule, is least arbitrary. The evidence provided by averages
and statistical regularities suggests that normative objectivity does exist, at least for
particular moments and particular situations. Certain social facts do recur reliably in
obedience to a sociological law of inertia which can be read as proof that the life world
has found its equilibrium in a specific normative identity. A priori, a normative order
may seem to be constructed as if anything were possible. However, even if we do
believe that everything is possible in law, in practical terms the possibilities are
predetermined and relatively limited. The rationality of the norm has introduced us to a
kind of positivistic pragmatism that cannot be grasped in absolute terms. What we must
understand is that there is no need to impose a law on the living in order to ensure
regularity in their behavior.
I have attempted to elucidate Foucault's rather enigmatic claim at the end of The History
of Sexuality that, as a result of the rise of bio-power, "we have entered a phase of
juridical regression in comparison with the pre-seventeenth-century societies we are
acquainted with."[38] This remark might well be construed to mean
159
that there has been some kind of decline of law and legality in modern society.
However, Foucault's project was neither to announce the imminent disappearance of
law, nor to criticize bio-power in the name of law. Foucault was concerned less with the
place of law in the exercise of power (that is, whether bio-power is compatible or not
with the exercise of law) than with the use of law as a "model" for analysis, a principle
that makes power intelligible.[39] Foucault was interested in the relationship between the
juridical and the political, and between power and law, as a means of determining the
conditions necessary for an analysis of the mechanisms of power. Power does not
necessarily function through law. Instead, law serves to camouflage the machinations of
power. An adequate description of monarchical power would have to include law, for
law is the language the monarchy provides itself with in order to legitimate its own
exercise of power. However, in the case of bio-power, any reference to the juridical is
illusory, since the language of bio-power is purely technical and has almost nothing to
do with the law as such. Foucault's analysis leaves open two questions: first, if the

juridical is an inappropriate category to use in interpreting bio-power, how do we make


sense of all those "instruments of the law" (codes, constitutions, laws, regulations) that
have developed and expanded during the era of bio-power? Second, if the action of
norms replaces the juridical system of law as the code and language of power, what role
remains for law?[40]
I have tried to argue that the contemporary legal apparatus is not coterminous with the
juridical, as Foucault describes it, and that the normative and the juridical are essentially
opposed. Further, I have attempted to delineate the structure of the normative on the
basis of two examples: insurance and industrial standardization. I have broadened the
definition of the norm to include that form of the common standard produced through
the group's reference to itself and demonstrated, finally, that law cannot be understood
simply in terms of its formal expressions (constitutions, codes, laws). These must all
refer back to what functions in society as a common standard, a normative and objective
basis for judgment. Thus we can now imagine a history of the law in which law is no
longer conceived in essentialist terms, and an account of the inevitable decline of
essentialist law becomes unnecessary.
In both the insurance system and industrial standardization, the norm appears as a
technique for the production of a common standard of measurement. No society can
exist without something akin to this common standard, a common language that binds
individuals together, making exchange and communication possible. The norm is one
part of a long history of the common standard, a lesser instance of a larger category.
This articulation of the norm and the common standard opens up a variety of research
perspectives, allowing us to explore modernity in terms of measurement techniques and
standards. Societies
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become modern at least partly by virtue of transformations in their instruments of
technical, political, and social measurement. What did the French Revolution bring
about, after all, if not an enormous transformation in systems of measurement? The
introduction of the metric system, the institution of a truly national language, calendar
reform, and the creation of the Civil Code are all examples of this. Similarly, the
institution of constitutional democracy was a means of producing a common political
standard. One might also read the history of the social sciences in the nineteenth century
as the formation of so many instruments intended to furnish modern societies with
social and political measurements. Thus we might well assess social modernity in terms
of the transformation a given society may have experienced in its techniques of
measurement.
Translated and adapted by Marjorie Beale
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