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(08/15/2008) Discipline & Punish: The Birth Of The Prison by Michel Foucault. New York. 1978. Pantheon Books. Translated from The French By Alan Sheridan. keywords: Psychology Punishment Prisons Philosophy. 334 pages. Jacket design by Tan Collins, Inc. 0394499425. January 1978.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   The author of the classic study of madness has now written the definitive account of how prisons and the power to punish became a part of our lives. Sweeping aside almost three centuries of increasingly sterile penal debate, Michel Foucault explains why the present-day arguments about the failures of penal institutions are, in fact, as old as the modern prison itself. In a remarkable tour de force, he demonstrates that these alleged failures are actually an inherent part of an institution which never functioned to eliminate criminals but only to define, refine, and perpetuate crime. To find out why this is so, Foucault goes back to the emergence of Western penal methods in the seventeenth century, when torture of the body gave way to punishment of the soul through rehabilitation. The world of medieval torture, with its intricate, gruesome methods for carving punishment directly on the body and its public spectacles of brutality, is first vividly re-created. Then the methods of corrective incarceration are shown to have shattered these traditional ways, bringing about a virtual revolution in the treatment and understanding of crime and punishment. Foucault skillfully reveals how this philosophy of rehabilitation, lauded as more humane and progressive by a virtual army of technician/reformers--wardens, doctors, chaplains, educators, psychiatrists--in fact created and insidiously expanded the most sophisticated methods of repression and behavior transformation. Prisons, he argues, cannot be separated from the societies they serve; they are but the concentrated expression of a discipline that has spread throughout schools, armies, factories, and hospitals since the seventeenth century. With their regularized routines, rigidly organized labor, experts on normality, and specialized authorities who test, classify, and assess, prisons epitomize the ways people are controlled and repressed today.

The holder of a Chair at France's most prestigious institution, the College de France, Foucault has also taught at the University of Buffalo. He is the author of MADNESS AND CIVILIZATION, THE ORDER OF THINGS, THE ARCHAEOLOGY OF KNOWLEDGE, THE BIRTH OF THE CLINIC, and I, PIERRE RIVIERE.

 

 

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