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By Foucault Michel

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62). Hay notes that large numbers of offences, many of them quite trivial, carried a potential death penalty. However, relatively few people who were found guilty were actually given a death sentence. Why was this? Hay suggests that the answer lies in the ideological function of criminal justice. Court sessions, called assizes, were held every few months in country towns. These had ritual and theatrical characteristics, such as pomp and ceremony, and thereby drew attention to the majesty of the law.

In arguing the absence of any foundational truth, postmodernists also reject the possibility of adopting an objective and disinterested perspective on the world and any particular event or idea that occurs within it (Feldman, 2001: 2362). Within postmodernism, any knowledge is contingent, localized and incomplete, the product of interpretation and consensus rather than a disinterested report on reality (Bauman, 1992: 102; Yeatman, 1994: 1). In light of this realization, no one version of the world can claim to be true to the exclusion of others, or more worthy of being imposed.

Recognizing the significance of difference creates a mandate to focus on the experiences of minority groups, the marginal and oppressed and to explore how they have been disadvantaged by dominant discourses even as they are ‘invented’ and defined by these. Groups and their experiences do not exist outside of the discourses that are applied to them. This in turn has implications for the traditional legal subject, an abstract entity who, although constructed through legal reasoning, has very real consequences.

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De la guerre des races au racisme d'etat by Foucault Michel

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