Foucault's Discipline and Punish: The birth of the prison Essay

Foucault's Discipline and Punish: The birth of the prison Essay

Length: 2316 words (6.6 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Research Papers

Open Document

Essay Preview

Foucault is best remembered for his historical inquiries into the origins of “disciplinary” society in a period extending from the 16th to the 19th centuries. Today, however, under the conditions of global modernity, the relevance of his contribution is often called into question. With the increasing ubiquity of markets, the break up of centralized states and the dissolution of national boundaries, the world today seems far removed from the bounded, disciplinary societies Foucault described in his most famous books. Far from disciplinary, society today is “post panoptic,” as Nancy Fraser has argued — in a move which seems to confirm Jean Baudrillard’s demand that we “forget Foucault.”

In order to answer the question, how Foucault’s theory of the disciplinary society can be used to understand the body in the society, I would like to begin this essay by returning to Foucault’s book – Discipline and Punish: The birth of the prison.
This book deals with the disciplinary institutions and practices that emerged in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. While discipline and punish is concerned with the birth of the prison in modern Europe, it has far wider implications for the everyday lives of ordinary citizens. Notions such as micro-power, disciplinary institutions, panopticism and normative judgements. Foucault developed this material through the research methods he called archaeology and genealogy. Both methods work to uncover the discursive formations and practices of different historical periods, but genealogy has a greater focus on questions of power, and the ways in which discursive power works on bodies. Power shows itself on a subject’s body because various events or happenings are written on the human body- they shape th...

... middle of paper ...

...n prison model disposed people to monitor themselves and others regarding the appropriateness or otherwise types of behaviour and body shape.


Chancer and Watkins. Gender, Race and Class. An Overview. (Blackwell Publishing)

Toni Lester. Gender Nonconformity, Race and Sexuality. Charting the Connections. (The University of Wisconsin Press)

Teresa de Lauretis. Technologies of Gender Essays on Theory, Film and Fiction (Palgrave Publication)

Kennan Malik. The Meaning of race. (Palgrave Publication)

Anne Cranny-Francis, Wendy Waring, Pam Stavropoulos, Joan Kirkby. Gender Studies. Terms and Debates. (Palgrave Publication)

Penelope Ingram. The Signifying Body. (State University of New York Press)

Mark Gibson. Culture and Power. (Berg Publication,New York)

Colin Burnham. Race. B.T.Batsford LTD. London.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Michel Foucault: Power and Identity Essay

- Introduction Michel Foucault and Erving Goffman’s work was centralised around there two different concepts of how your identity is formed through the process of power and expert knowledge. This Essay will discuss the ideas of Michel Foucault who was a French Social Theorist. His theories addressed the relationship between power and knowledge and how both of these are used as a form of social control through society. The essay will look at Foucault’s work in The Body and Sexuality, Madness and Civilisation and Discipline and Punish which displays how he conceptualised Power and identity on a Marxist and macro basis of study....   [tags: analysis, michael foucault, erving goffman]

Research Papers
1988 words (5.7 pages)

Essay on Foucault and Punishment

- Change over time; that is a common theme with everything in the world. The concept of punishment is no different in that regard. In the 16th and 17th century the common view for punishing people was retaliation from the king and to be done in the town square. In what seemed to be all of a sudden, there was a change in human thinking, the concept of punishment changed to a more psychological approach compared to a public embarrassment/torture approach. The following paragraphs will discuss the development of prisons and what in fact gives people gives people the right to punish; as well as the overall meaning and function of prisons....   [tags: Development of Prisons, Right to Punish]

Research Papers
1174 words (3.4 pages)

Compare Foucault’s Treatment of the Insane with that of Goffman’s on Asylums

- When reading the works of both Michel Foucault and Erving Goffman, together they give a delineation of the discourse of madness. This essay delves into both of these renowned sociologists, in an attempt to explore both Michel Foucault’s finding on the treatment of the insane and Erving Goffman’s work on asylums. It begins with a very deep and archival aspect on Foucault’s part; where close attention was paid to the evolution of language, words and the view of the mad. Foucault studied and researched in a more genealogical and archeological perspective, as he looked at the mad from inception....   [tags: madness, sociological analysis]

Research Papers
1301 words (3.7 pages)

The Digital Panopticon: Foucault and Internet Privacy Essay

- ... Humans generally behave differently under conditions of anonymity and solitude versus publicity and surveillance; privacy is a condition of life which is in decay. Snowden asks us to consider what is lost in the digital shattering of privacy. 1Foucault, Michel. (1977). Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. Translated by Alan Sheridan, London: Allen Lane, Penguin. First published in French as Surveiller et punir, Gallimard, Paris, 1975. 2 Ibid. 3 Praxis Films. "NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden: 'I don't want to live in a society..."YouTube....   [tags: surveillence, architecture, nsa]

Research Papers
1313 words (3.8 pages)

Essay on Foucault's Discipline and Punish and Power and Sex

- Foucault's "Discipline and Punish" and "Power and Sex" Every great architect is - necessarily - a great poet. He must be a great original interpreter of his time, his day, his age- Frank Lloyd Wright Darkness is meant to conceal, light is meant to expose, and there is power intrinsically imbued in both of these. Murderers hide in the dark, waiting for their victims, and the atrocities of different countries are hidden in history and official memos and propaganda. At the same time, light exerts power because it illuminates, it discovers, it creates vulnerability on all it touches....   [tags: foucault discipline punish power Sex Essays]

Research Papers
1726 words (4.9 pages)

Foucault's Discipline and Punish Essay examples

- Crime is inevitable in society, whether it be in traditional societies or in modern society. However, with an action, there are always has to be a consequence, however when breaking the law, the consequences are rather bad, and sometimes harsh. This is called punishment. Discipline is enforcing acceptable patterns of behaviour and teaching obedience. In an excerpt called Discipline and Punish, contemporary theorist Michael Foucault explains these two concepts. This paper will summarize the author’s main points; provide a comparison with a theorist previously lectured on in class, as well as a personal interpretation of Foucault’s arguments....   [tags: Violence, Brutality, Imprisonment]

Research Papers
816 words (2.3 pages)

Discipline and Punish by Michel Foucault Essay

- ... The ingenuity of the architecture allows for a greater number of people to be controlled, with less people controlling them. In fact, as long as there is a center tower in the middle, it doesn’t matter if someone is watching or not because the prisoners would never know. The Panopticon’s architecture has power of people’s minds. Those in power decide what is normal and abnormal, and in these examples being unproductive or disruptive is abnormal. Consequently, it is no surprise that Panopticons, or institutions with constant surveillance, exist in society....   [tags: constant surveillance, panopticism]

Research Papers
1900 words (5.4 pages)

Essay on An Indepth Look at Subjectivity and Panopticism.

- Panopticism, as defined by Michel Foucault in his book Discipline and Punish, is (as proposed by Jeremy Bentham) a circular building with an observation tower in the centre of an open space surrounded by an outer wall. The idea behind this social theory that subjects, being watched by an upper power, always have either complete freedom or none at all. How can they have both you might ask. The subjects cannot see if someone is or isn’t watching them, therefore they should always act at there best....   [tags: Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish]

Research Papers
1015 words (2.9 pages)

Arthur W. Frank’s The Wounded Story Teller and Michel Foucault’s Discipline and Punish

- This discussion paper intends to address the difference between witness, on the one hand, and observation, judgement and examination on the other hand. Through the consideration of a social context, these conceptual frameworks will be contrasted in terms of their purpose, the knowledge gain once applied to the social world and social beings as well as the potential implications of their implementation. Conclusions will be drawn from the evidence as to whether these conceptual lenses aid in the understanding of the social world and in turn the nature of the human condition....   [tags: witness, observation, judgement]

Research Papers
1790 words (5.1 pages)

Essay on Evaluation of the Usefulness of Selected Examples of Foucault's Theory

- Within this paper, I shall evaluate the usefulness of selected examples of Foucault’s theories from a feminist perspective. To begin, a short introduction will outline the era in which Foucault wrote, as this has been seen as influential to his work, inspiring him to move away from the former ideological ways of thinking about the world (Taylor and Vintges 2004, Mills 1997). I shall then go on to consider the changing nature of feminism, which has moved on from viewing patriarchy and men as the oppressors of women, and is persistently developing more complex analyses of the ways in which gendered power relations operate....   [tags: stalinism, michel foucault, feminism]

Research Papers
959 words (2.7 pages)