Foucault said that Mettray was the "most famous of a whole series of institutions which, well beyond the frontiers of criminal law, constituted what one might call the carceral archipelago. It has been described as the book that "brought down an empire",  the most powerful indictment of a "political regime The carceral network, with its mechanisms of normalizing social control,  made the human sciences "historically possible" through its analytical investment into "knowable man"—his "soul, individuality, consciousness, and conduct. In his publication, The Archaeology of Knowledge , and again in Discipline and Punish, he investigates the origins of the "disciplines" in the humanities and social sciences.
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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.
It was a ritual in which the audience was important. Public execution reestablished the authority and power of the King. Popular literature reported the details of executions, and the public was heavily involved in them.
The eighteenth century saw various calls for reform of punishment. The reformers, according to Foucault, were not motivated by a concern for the welfare of prisoners. Rather, they wanted to make power operate more efficiently. They proposed a theater of punishment, in which a complex system of representations and signs was displayed publicly. Punishments related obviously to their crimes, and served as an obstacle to lawbreaking. Prison is not yet imaginable as a penalty. Three new models of penality helped to overcome resistance to it.
Nevertheless, great differences existed between this kind of coercive institution and the early, punitive city. The way is prepared for the prison by the developments in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries of the disciplines. This is achieved by devices such as timetables and military drills, and the process of exercise. Through discipline, individuals are created out of a mass. Disciplinary power has three elements: hierarchical observation, normalizing judgment and examination. Observation and the gaze are key instruments of power.
By these processes, and through the human sciences, the notion of the norm developed. Institutions modeled on the panopticon begin to spread throughout society. Prison develops from this idea of discipline. It aims both to deprive the individual of his freedom and to reform him.
The penitentiary is the next development. It combines the prison with the workshop and the hospital. The penitentiary replaces the prisoner with the delinquent. The delinquent is created as a response to changes in popular illegality, in order to marginalize and control popular behavior.
Criticism of the failure of prisons misses the point, because failure is part of its very nature. The process by which failure and operation are combined is the carceral system. The aim of prison, and of the carceral system, is to produce delinquency as a means of structuring and controlling crime. From this perspective, they succeed. The prison is part of a network of power that spreads throughout society, and which is controlled by the rules of strategy alone.
Calls for its abolition fail to recognize the depth at which it is embedded in modern society, or its real function.
Discipline and Punish
Foucault opens his book with a graphic description of the public torture and execution of Damiens, accused and found guilty of regicide even although the King was not harmed at all , in Paris, France and immediately contrasts this with an account of the rules drawn up by Leon Faucher, for a day in the House of young prisoners in Paris; he uses these examples not to compare similar punishments for similar crimes but to establish the shift in penal style or punishment that has occurred in less than one hundred years Foucault, The grandiose public spectacle of the scaffold has been replaced by the private, hidden, house of correction or prison and the object of punishment shifted from the body to the soul Barker, ; it is this essentially that Foucault builds his thesis of discipline and punishment on. The shift from corporal to carceral that Foucault asserts took place between the late 18th century and the mid 19th century can be challenged in two regards; firstly, the time frame and secondly, the actuality of the change. A commentator named Moore suggests that transportation was the main punishment at this time, alongside imprisonment, which involved hard labour and flogging, and importantly, hanging was still routinely used in the UK — however not as a public spectacle — until the s. Discipline as asserted by Foucault is enacted on the mind and not the body in this new enlightened penology that he is describing and yet if the prisoner is completely isolated and has their whole day regulated and is potentially being continually observed, it begs the question what consequences could be worse? The obvious answer is that the discipline would be physical and yet, would that not be to undermine the shift in the object of punishment? The results of this research are still used today albeit largely by researchers to assess the impact of observer effect on participants in studies.
Summary The Carceral Summary Foucault dates the completion of the carceral system to February 22, the date of the opening of Mettray prison colony. This colony is the disciplinary form at its most extreme. The chiefs and deputies at Mettray were technicians of behavior. Their task was to produce bodies that were docile and capable. Historians of the human sciences also date the birth of scientific psychology to this time.
The Carceral Foucault’s Discipline and Punish Essay
Summary[ edit ] The main ideas of Discipline and Punish can be grouped according to its four parts: torture, punishment, discipline, and prison. These examples provide a picture of just how profound the changes in western penal systems were after less than a century. Foucault wants the reader to consider what led to these changes and how Western attitudes shifted so radically. Foucault wants to tie scientific knowledge and technological development to the development of the prison to prove this point. He defines a "micro-physics" of power, which is constituted by a power that is strategic and tactical rather than acquired, preserved or possessed.
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. It was a ritual in which the audience was important. Public execution reestablished the authority and power of the King. Popular literature reported the details of executions, and the public was heavily involved in them.