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Discipline & Punish: The Birth of the Prison Paperback – Apr 25 1995

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; REP edition (April 25 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679752552
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679752554
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 1.8 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 159 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #17,464 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Michel Foucault (1926�1984) was a French philosopher, historian, social theorist, and philologist. One of the leading intellectuals of the twentieth century and the most prominent thinker in post-war France, Foucault's work influenced disciplines as diverse as history, sociology, philosophy, sociology, and literary criticism.

One of AudioFile magazine's Golden Voices, Simon Prebble has received over twenty Earphones Awards and five Listen-Up Awards, and he has been a finalist fourteen times for an Audie Award. In 2006, Publishers Weekly named him Narrator of the Year, and he was named Booklist's 2010 Voice of Choice. --This text refers to the MP3 CD edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
On 2 March 1757 Damiens the regicide condemmed 'to make the amende honorable before the main door of the Church of Paris', where he was to be 'taken and conveyed in a cart, wearing nothing but a a shirt, holding a torch of burning wax weighing two pounds'; then, 'in the said cart, to the place de Greve, where, on a scaffold that will be erected there, the flesh will be torn from his breasts, arms, thighs and calves with red-hot pincers, his right hand, holding the knife with which he committed the said parricide, burnt with sulphur, and,on those places where the flesh will be torn away, poured molten lead, boiling oil, burning resin, wax and sulphur melted together and then his body drawn and quartered by four horses and his limbs and body consumed by fire, reduced to ashes and his ashes thrown to the winds' (Pieces originales . . ., 372-4). Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Peter A. Kindle on Aug. 6 2003
Format: Paperback
This book is no more about the history of prisons than the fable of the rabbit and hare is about animal competition. Foucault is writing about the power of normalization in western society.
Within five minutes of my residence there are two large Texas state prisons. The offenders incarcerated in these facilities exist in a network of interlocking disciplinary mechanisms, mechanisms that Foucault unveils in this book. The criminal justice system, the prison environment, the educational/training opportunities available during incarceration, parolee supervision, and the limited employment options on release all coordinate to encapsulate the offender's life. The offender's agency is significantly impaired for the balance of his life regardless of his domiciliary.
I live in a master planned, suburban community subject to a detailed and lengthy list of deed restrictions. These deed restrictions dictate the colors that I can paint my house, the height to which my grass can grow, the type of trees that I can plant in the front yard as well as the insistence that I plant three trees in my front yard. My wife and I have had to paint the front door twice in the last four years to comply with homeowner association threats, and we have been chastised for offenses as "severe" as leaving a hose uncoiled for too long in the front yard.
Now I admit that there is a modicum of agency in my decision to live in this specific community; however, just like the offenders incarcerated nearby, I live in a network of interlocking disciplinary mechanisms. I contend that my agency is also significantly impaired. The difference between my life and the offender's life is one of degree, not kind.
This is the message Foucault communicates with both style and substance in this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Peter Song on Sept. 30 2001
Format: Paperback
According to James Miller's "The Passion of Michel Foucault" (which, by the way, is the best Foucault bio), Foucault described "Discipline and Punish" as his "first real book" and noted on more than one occasion its superiority to "The Order of Things," a prior book touted by some as his best. It's not difficult to see why he was so fond of this particular text. In "Discipline," readers will discover all of the things that have endeared so many academics and students to his work. For one, there are the radical, counter-intuitive arguments themselves. According to Foucault, western societies have moved away from a punitive mechanism focused on public torture to one based on prisons not because we have become more humane but because tortures no longer effectively served their purpose, to legitimize sovereign power (here, one can detect the virulent anti-Enlightenment strain that characterizes all of his books). But Foucault doesn't stop there. He argues that prisons are merely the visible embodiment of a broader, all-encompassing "power," the principles of which one can find crystallized in Jeremy Bentham's "panopticon." Basically, the panopticon is a model prison with an opaque tower in the center, which can house a warden or a guard, surrounded by the cages of the prisoners themselves. The panopticon creates an insurmountable power relation in which the prisoner, who can't look inside the tower to see if someone is there, internalizes the possible gaze of the authorities or the idea of being monitored perpetually, and behaves accordingly. Foucault goes on to argue that panoptic principles were not limited just to prisons, but eventually and on its own came to permeate schools, barracks, factories, and other social institutions.Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By TheIrrationalMan on Sept. 21 2000
Format: Paperback
"Discipline and Punish", a key text in the Foucaldian canon, is an ambitious, though at times imprecise, attempt to trace the ideological bases of the modern punitive apparati consolidated by the Enlightenment. His most important formulation is the recognition that curative or educative punishment is not dissimilar to judicial punishment, which treats crime as a sin against the social order. Curative discipline, Foucault contends, takes crime as a sin against the wrongdoer and is thus the obverse of penal coercion. He compares prisons, factories, schools, barracks and hospitals in their fundamental coercive underpinnings, a feature which is best illustrated by the Panopticon, Bentham's version of the model prison, which was designed to enforce total surveillance of the punished. As opposed to the view that the Enlightenment saw to the triumph of science, reason, progress and order, Foucault considers it as contributing to increased suffering and repression through social control. The corollary of Foucault's argument is that the West has achieved no progress in the past two centuries, a conclusion which is plain false. Reason, as understood by Foucault, is a technology of power with science as its tool; its area of domination human bodies and their actions, as demonstrated by disciplinary surveillance. The will to power, as knowledge, is expressed to consolidate the position of the bourgeois society, and the concentration of coercion, the prevalent quality inherent in modern culture. This is by far an eloquent and absorbing treatise.
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