Analysis of Discipline and Punish

1602 words 7 pages
Michel Foucault’s Discipline and Punish, although verbose, contains important dialogue concerning the concept of power in the penal systems of late 18th century France with public execution, and the gradual transformation of power in subsequent disciplinary systems up to modern times. Power is closely related to the concepts of violence or force, but they are not the same. Throughout this work, Foucault establishes the trend of using power as a sort of political technology over the human body. According to Foucault, power relations transcend every facet of society, and are not simply localized in those relations between citizens and the government. Power must be aligned closely with the concept of knowledge. Basically, there is no power …show more content…

Not surprisingly, the public began attempting to free criminals in the wake of an inevitable and ultimately humiliating death. The sovereign power, in order to maintain the sanctity of the public spectacle, began placing soldiers between the crowd and the criminal to avoid any escape or foul play. This in turn established a sort of wall between the king and his subjects. They were no longer a part of the punishment. Public execution lost its relevance to their lives, and the receptiveness of the people declined. People began to see the theme of “blood for blood” that the sovereign power was utilizing. Acting as a sort of catalyst for penal reform, The Enlightenment was a critical movement that established ideas on critical thinking. Science and the humane treatment of people were concepts thrown about in the public sphere. Another form of punitive method was needed. “The point of application of the penalty is not the representation, but the body, time, everyday gestures and activities; the soul, too, but in so far as it is the seat of habits” (Foucault, 128). The body and soul are now seen as one element that should be corrected together, if punishment is to indeed be successful. The technology of power over the criminal must now seek to establish a code of law, or logic connecting the punishment and the crime. For example, the death penalty should only be reserved for those who commit murder. A set of standards


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