Discipline and punish book review

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discipline and punish book review

Review: Discipline & Punish – Fragments of History

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PHILOSOPHY - Michel Foucault

Review: Discipline & Punish

Thank you! Aerated abstractions fastened to minuscule details are not to the American reader's taste; the effort nonetheless is worth it. Foucault is a College de France savant who has previously probed the ""archaeology"" of the human sciences as well as the rhetoric of madness. Now his subject is that juncture in time, roughly , when punishment of crime underwent a sea change as the philosophes, the utilitarians, and other reformers argued for the abrogation of public tortures and executions and society's new means of correction, as expressed in new legal codes, became ""rehabilitative"" and ""humane. But the exalted claims, Foucault suggests, are wholly fraudulent. Punishment is embedded in social structures, and if today we incarcerate rather than break on the wheel, it is because this punitive mode fits industrial society just as the infliction of pain on the body was congruent with medieval power relationships.

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It is an analysis of the social and theoretical mechanisms behind the changes that occurred in Western penal systems during the modern age based on historical documents from France. Foucault argues that prison did not become the principal form of punishment just because of the humanitarian concerns of reformists. He traces the cultural shifts that led to the predominance of prison via the body and power. Prison used by the "disciplines" — new technological powers that can also be found, according to Foucault, in places such as schools, hospitals, and military barracks. In a later work, Security, Territory, Population , Foucault admitted that he was somewhat overzealous in his argument that disciplinary power conditions society; he amended and developed his earlier ideas. The main ideas of Discipline and Punish can be grouped according to its four parts: torture, punishment, discipline, and prison.

Discipline and Punish is a history of the modern penal system. Foucault seeks to analyze punishment in its social context, and to examine how changing power relations affected punishment. He begins by analyzing the situation before the eighteenth century, when public execution and corporal punishment were key punishments, and torture was part of most criminal investigations. Punishment was ceremonial and directed at the prisoner's body. It was a ritual in which the audience was important.


3 thoughts on “DISCIPLINE AND PUNISH: The Birth of the Prison by Michel Foucault | Kirkus Reviews

  1. MICHEL FOUCAULT, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, trans. is not so much a history of punishment as a structural2 analysis of power, or, to be.

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