In the latest issue:

Real Men Go to Tehran

Adam Shatz

What Trump doesn’t know about Iran

Patrick Cockburn

Kaiser Karl V

Thomas Penn

The Hostile Environment

Catherine Hall

Social Mobilities

Adam Swift

Short Cuts: So much for England

Tariq Ali

What the jihadis left behind

Nelly Lahoud

Ray Strachey

Francesca Wade

C.J. Sansom

Malcolm Gaskill

At the British Museum: ‘Troy: Myth and Reality’

James Davidson

Poem: ‘The Lion Tree’

Jamie McKendrick

SurrogacyTM

Jenny Turner

Boys in Motion

Nicholas Penny

‘Trick Mirror’

Lauren Oyler

Diary: What really happened in Yancheng?

Long Ling

Close

Terms and Conditions

These terms and conditions of use refer to the London Review of Books and the London Review Bookshop website (www.lrb.co.uk — hereafter ‘LRB Website’). These terms and conditions apply to all users of the LRB Website ("you"), including individual subscribers to the print edition of the LRB who wish to take advantage of our free 'subscriber only' access to archived material ("individual users") and users who are authorised to access the LRB Website by subscribing institutions ("institutional users").

Each time you use the LRB Website you signify your acceptance of these terms and conditions. If you do not agree, or are not comfortable with any part of this document, your only remedy is not to use the LRB Website.


  1. By registering for access to the LRB Website and/or entering the LRB Website by whatever route of access, you agree to be bound by the terms and conditions currently prevailing.
  2. The London Review of Books ("LRB") reserves the right to change these terms and conditions at any time and you should check for any alterations regularly. Continued usage of the LRB Website subsequent to a change in the terms and conditions constitutes acceptance of the current terms and conditions.
  3. The terms and conditions of any subscription agreements which educational and other institutions have entered into with the LRB apply in addition to these terms and conditions.
  4. You undertake to indemnify the LRB fully for all losses damages and costs incurred as a result of your breaching these terms and conditions.
  5. The information you supply on registration to the LRB Website shall be accurate and complete. You will notify the LRB promptly of any changes of relevant details by emailing the registrar. You will not assist a non-registered person to gain access to the LRB Website by supplying them with your password. In the event that the LRB considers that you have breached the requirements governing registration, that you are in breach of these terms and conditions or that your or your institution's subscription to the LRB lapses, your registration to the LRB Website will be terminated.
  6. Each individual subscriber to the LRB (whether a person or organisation) is entitled to the registration of one person to use the 'subscriber only' content on the web site. This user is an 'individual user'.
  7. The London Review of Books operates a ‘no questions asked’ cancellation policy in accordance with UK legislation. Please contact us to cancel your subscription and receive a full refund for the cost of all unposted issues.
  8. Use of the 'subscriber only' content on the LRB Website is strictly for the personal use of each individual user who may read the content on the screen, download, store or print single copies for their own personal private non-commercial use only, and is not to be made available to or used by any other person for any purpose.
  9. Each institution which subscribes to the LRB is entitled to grant access to persons to register on and use the 'subscriber only' content on the web site under the terms and conditions of its subscription agreement with the LRB. These users are 'institutional users'.
  10. Each institutional user of the LRB may access and search the LRB database and view its entire contents, and may also reproduce insubstantial extracts from individual articles or other works in the database to which their institution's subscription provides access, including in academic assignments and theses, online and/or in print. All quotations must be credited to the author and the LRB. Institutional users are not permitted to reproduce any entire article or other work, or to make any commercial use of any LRB material (including sale, licensing or publication) without the LRB's prior written permission. Institutions may notify institutional users of any additional or different conditions of use which they have agreed with the LRB.
  11. Users may use any one computer to access the LRB web site 'subscriber only' content at any time, so long as that connection does not allow any other computer, networked or otherwise connected, to access 'subscriber only' content.
  12. The LRB Website and its contents are protected by copyright and other intellectual property rights. You acknowledge that all intellectual property rights including copyright in the LRB Website and its contents belong to or have been licensed to the LRB or are otherwise used by the LRB as permitted by applicable law.
  13. All intellectual property rights in articles, reviews and essays originally published in the print edition of the LRB and subsequently included on the LRB Website belong to or have been licensed to the LRB. This material is made available to you for use as set out in paragraph 8 (if you are an individual user) or paragraph 10 (if you are an institutional user) only. Save for such permitted use, you may not download, store, disseminate, republish, post, reproduce, translate or adapt such material in whole or in part in any form without the prior written permission of the LRB. To obtain such permission and the terms and conditions applying, contact the Rights and Permissions department.
  14. All intellectual property rights in images on the LRB Website are owned by the LRB except where another copyright holder is specifically attributed or credited. Save for such material taken for permitted use set out above, you may not download, store, disseminate, republish, post, reproduce, translate or adapt LRB’s images in whole or in part in any form without the prior written permission of the LRB. To obtain such permission and the terms and conditions applying, contact the Rights and Permissions department. Where another copyright holder is specifically attributed or credited you may not download, store, disseminate, republish, reproduce or translate such images in whole or in part in any form without the prior written permission of the copyright holder. The LRB will not undertake to supply contact details of any attributed or credited copyright holder.
  15. The LRB Website is provided on an 'as is' basis and the LRB gives no warranty that the LRB Website will be accessible by any particular browser, operating system or device.
  16. The LRB makes no express or implied representation and gives no warranty of any kind in relation to any content available on the LRB Website including as to the accuracy or reliability of any information either in its articles, essays and reviews or in the letters printed in its letter page or material supplied by third parties. The LRB excludes to the fullest extent permitted by law all liability of any kind (including liability for any losses, damages or costs) arising from the publication of any materials on the LRB Website or incurred as a consequence of using or relying on such materials.
  17. The LRB excludes to the fullest extent permitted by law all liability of any kind (including liability for any losses, damages or costs) for any legal or other consequences (including infringement of third party rights) of any links made to the LRB Website.
  18. The LRB is not responsible for the content of any material you encounter after leaving the LRB Website site via a link in it or otherwise. The LRB gives no warranty as to the accuracy or reliability of any such material and to the fullest extent permitted by law excludes all liability that may arise in respect of or as a consequence of using or relying on such material.
  19. This site may be used only for lawful purposes and in a manner which does not infringe the rights of, or restrict the use and enjoyment of the site by, any third party. In the event of a chat room, message board, forum and/or news group being set up on the LRB Website, the LRB will not undertake to monitor any material supplied and will give no warranty as to its accuracy, reliability, originality or decency. By posting any material you agree that you are solely responsible for ensuring that it is accurate and not obscene, defamatory, plagiarised or in breach of copyright, confidentiality or any other right of any person, and you undertake to indemnify the LRB against all claims, losses, damages and costs incurred in consequence of your posting of such material. The LRB will reserve the right to remove any such material posted at any time and without notice or explanation. The LRB will reserve the right to disclose the provenance of such material, republish it in any form it deems fit or edit or censor it. The LRB will reserve the right to terminate the registration of any person it considers to abuse access to any chat room, message board, forum or news group provided by the LRB.
  20. Any e-mail services supplied via the LRB Website are subject to these terms and conditions.
  21. You will not knowingly transmit any virus, malware, trojan or other harmful matter to the LRB Website. The LRB gives no warranty that the LRB Website is free from contaminating matter, viruses or other malicious software and to the fullest extent permitted by law disclaims all liability of any kind including liability for any damages, losses or costs resulting from damage to your computer or other property arising from access to the LRB Website, use of it or downloading material from it.
  22. The LRB does not warrant that the use of the LRB Website will be uninterrupted, and disclaims all liability to the fullest extent permitted by law for any damages, losses or costs incurred as a result of access to the LRB Website being interrupted, modified or discontinued.
  23. The LRB Website contains advertisements and promotional links to websites and other resources operated by third parties. While we would never knowingly link to a site which we believed to be trading in bad faith, the LRB makes no express or implied representations or warranties of any kind in respect of any third party websites or resources or their contents, and we take no responsibility for the content, privacy practices, goods or services offered by these websites and resources. The LRB excludes to the fullest extent permitted by law all liability for any damages or losses arising from access to such websites and resources. Any transaction effected with such a third party contacted via the LRB Website are subject to the terms and conditions imposed by the third party involved and the LRB accepts no responsibility or liability resulting from such transactions.
  24. The LRB disclaims liability to the fullest extent permitted by law for any damages, losses or costs incurred for unauthorised access or alterations of transmissions or data by third parties as consequence of visit to the LRB Website.
  25. While 'subscriber only' content on the LRB Website is currently provided free to subscribers to the print edition of the LRB, the LRB reserves the right to impose a charge for access to some or all areas of the LRB Website without notice.
  26. These terms and conditions are governed by and will be interpreted in accordance with English law and any disputes relating to these terms and conditions will be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales.
  27. The various provisions of these terms and conditions are severable and if any provision is held to be invalid or unenforceable by any court of competent jurisdiction then such invalidity or unenforceability shall not affect the remaining provisions.
  28. If these terms and conditions are not accepted in full, use of the LRB Website must be terminated immediately.
Close
The Policing of Families 
by Jacques Donzelot, translated by Robert Hurley.
Hutchinson, 242 pp., £8.95, May 1980, 0 09 140950 0
Show More
Show More

Michel Foucault has of late become something of a cult figure in the Anglo-Saxon world. His critics can point out that he has the necessary qualifications for guru status, in that his writings have tended to be cross-disciplinary, obscure and fairly opaque. Yet his work has recently taken on a new clarity and, moreover, he has acknowledged that in his previous studies he had missed an important explanatory variable – namely, ‘power’. In essence, Foucault now argues that the 18th century saw a shift in the nature of power, from a system based on sovereignty to one based on discipline. In the former, power radiated from the personage of the king and through his representatives, courtiers, magistrates and officers directed itself to the body of his subject. This system of power can be illustrated by the various techniques of punishment which involved a public display of violence to the criminal’s body, as in executions, torture and floggings. Within a few decades, however, the criminal found himself not in public, but alone in a cell, and subjected, not to physical attacks, but to constant surveillance. The prison, Foucault argues, was a device of disciplinary power in which the exposure of the criminal’s body to observation instilled a sense of discipline. This new invention in the ‘technology of power’ found its ideal expression in Bentham’s Panopticon and its usefulness in the prisons, schools, hospitals, barracks and workshops that were built throughout the 19th century. Each of these institutions, through their internal configurations, allowed bodies to be constantly visible to an observing ‘gaze’; and appropriate techniques – inspections, clinical examinations, investigations and the like – were devised to further the analysis of these individualised bodies. The body was both the object of the gaze and, more important, an effect: constant surveillance served to constitute the body as a discrete object and to fabricate a personalised individualism. The individual, in Foucault’s words, was both object and effect of power.

Jacques Donzelot describes himself as working on the periphery of Michel Foucault and his book on the family continually displays its indebtedness to Foucault’s work. Thus, in a sense, Donzelot has not written a history of the family but of ‘the social’. This is not a book which charts the changes in the structure of the family over the last two centuries (that would be to assume the prior existence of the phenomenon in question); nor is it a book which describes at the socio-political level the changes which were to influence family structure. Indeed, it is the traditional notion of the family as a part of ‘the social structure’ that Donzelot would object to, in that it suggests a mechanistic and essentialist view of the social. For Donzelot the family is not a thing but a loose collection of alliances, constantly changing under external influences (‘strategies’): the family, like the individual for Foucault, is not the starting-point of the analysis but the consequence, the resultant of ever-changing forces. The family is at once an object on which social practices fix themselves and an effect of those same practices.

Like Foucault, Donzelot starts in the 18th century at the point when the social arrangements of the Ancien Régime were in transition. In particular, he picks up Foucault’s notion of ‘biopolitics’ to explain the contemporary interest in the growth and management of populations, whether in the extraction of labour from individual bodies, in the emergence of sexuality at the points where interest in fertility and the newly problematic relationships between individuals intersected, or in the concern with children as key determinants of population size and quality. In many ways, The Policing of Families is about the policing of children, because it is Donzelot’s contention that it was concern with the child – its growth, development and potential for error – that seems to have motivated many of the medical and welfare strategies of the last two hundred years. In their turn, these various strategies have fashioned the nature of the family unit and the identity of its other members. The mother, for example, as the principle socialiser of children, has managed to increase her power in relation to the old authoritarian rule of the father by establishing alliances with the medical authorities and by her consumption of specialised tracts on mothercraft. Indeed, it might be reasonable to argue that the radicalisation of women in the 20th century is a product of the special and discrete identity that motherhood has achieved: it is noticeable that feminism is somewhat ambivalent towards children, perhaps for the reason that while holding the key to a woman’s separate identity and autonomy, they also require her continued subjugation to the trappings of motherhood.

It is principally the strategies that were directed at the body of the child with which Donzelot is concerned here, and he provides a wealth of examples of techniques, laws, institutions and so on which were created in France to manage the problem of childhood. Whether such developments also took place in Britain at the same time requires investigation, but the broad outlines of the argument can be seen here: for example, in the increasing interest in the surveillance of children at the end of the 19th century as manifested in compulsory schooling and paediatric textbooks; or in the infant welfare movement at the beginning of the 20th century, with its attendant creation of dossiers on individual children such as birth notification, antenatal registration and school medical inspection, or in the growing concern with children’s psychological development as shown, in the inter-war years, by Gesell’s work in the USA and, in the post-war world, by the various longitudinal studies of child development in Britain.

At the beginning of the 20th century there were two kinds of ‘interest’ in the family: the juridical and the medical: both, however, required its members to meet somewhat arbitrary norms. A space was therefore created in which the ‘psy complex’ – those sciences and techniques informed by psychoanalytic traditions – offered a ‘floating’ referrent for individual behaviour and perceptions. This change can be illustrated by the shift from the problem of insanity, which preoccupied the psychiatric and medico-legal authorities in the 19th century, to the invention of the neuroses in the 20th century, which replaced the fixed eternal referrent of reason with a subjective internal referrent of coping. Here then was a fundamental similarity between Freud and Keynes: Keynes managed the economic problems of a fixed monetary system by introducing the notion that money was not an immutable commodity but could be accorded whatever value social necessity demanded of it; similarly, Freud in his invention of the psy complex enabled the family to adjust itself to a new ‘floating’ social order.

This is a book which presents a radical perspective on the family: its chief virtue is that it is brimming with ideas; if on occasion those ideas seem a little outrageous or far-fetched, then their failings can be forgiven. More irritating is Donzelot’s erratic style, at times too detailed, at times too condensed. This is in part a product of the form of analysis he has undertaken, which tends not to follow a slow and even plod through historical events but progresses in a series of jumps linking one happening with another, perhaps a century later. There are no references, which makes it difficult to judge how much of the work is drawn from primary sources.

Send Letters To:

The Editor
London Review of Books,
28 Little Russell Street
London, WC1A 2HN

letters@lrb.co.uk

Please include name, address, and a telephone number.

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.