This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Foucault And Punishment Essay

1441 words - 6 pages

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. The work by Michel Foucault in Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison will help with the arguments at hand.
The first thing to be looked at is the change from a medieval concept of punishment to a more modern concept. What sparked this seemingly sudden change in thinking? Foucault describes how punishment was handled at the very first page of his book. He used an example of Robert-François Damiens, the man who tried to assassinate King Louis XV, and how he was used as a public display to show other towns people what would happen to them is such an act was to be attempted again. This was a specific example of how punishment was used in the form of torture and a public spectacle to embed fear into the minds of the public. A major aspect of punishment was the body, how to torture and be able to display it to the people. The public display was similar to a ceremonial occasion, as if it was a significant get together for the public, very similar to a state fair or a carnival. All of this changed in the coming decades, “disappearance of the tortured, dismembered, amputated body, symbolically branded on face or shoulder, exposed alive or dead to public view. That body as the major target for penal repression disappeared” (Foucault 8). The public spectacle went as far as chain-gangs until that was abolished in 1848 (Foucault 8). The reason for this change, according to Foucault, was due to the overwhelming thought of humanization that developed in society.
How did this change to a humanization thinking come about and more importantly how was it implemented into the penal system? Foucault accredits the evolution to the humanization process of thinking based on how people portrayed the executioner. What that means is the overwhelming sense of savagery that was bestowed into the people by the fact that the punishment had ‘out-done’ the crime itself. “It was as if the punishment was thought to equal, if not exceed, in savagery the crime itself, to accustom the spectators to a ferocity from which wished to divert them…to make the executioner resemble a criminal, judges murderers, to reverse roles at the last moment, to make the tortured criminal an object of pity or admiration” (Foucault 9). The perception by the people in seeing how criminals were dealt with was the turning point and the leading factor to the eventual...

Find Another Essay On Foucault and Punishment

Freedom from the bars of your soul

2352 words - 10 pages limbs. This was a panicle punishment at one time, the idea of being punished to the point of death offered no freedom or resolution to occur. The very notion of one’s innocence until proven guilty was a laughable clause at this point in time. The only answer to all was guilty and to which method of death was forecast in one’s future. Foucault states, “As a result, justice no longer takes public responsibility for the violence that is bound up with

power Essay

1832 words - 8 pages cognition emerged as a science of democracy whilst providing examples to illustrate each point within the essay. The concept of power is a tantalising subject due to it affecting every aspect of life; being the reason for control, governance, punishment, reform, and rebellion. Foucault disputes the belief that power is exercised by people or indeed groups by means of episodic or sovereign acts of oppression or domination. Instead, there is a new way of


997 words - 4 pages , power and punishment of the Panopticon to the power during the Middle Ages by the King which was more public in contrast to the Panopticon. The Panopticon was more discrete. It was not a show or form of entertainment when someone was punished unlike when someone is punished with the King. By exploring this, Foucault demonstrated how surveillance has changed overtime. Foucault’s primary example of a disciplinary institution was the Panopticon

Michel Foucault

1787 words - 7 pages transform themselves, modify themselves, and to attain acertain state of perfection, happiness, purity, supernatural power. Let us call these kindsof technologies technologies of the self. (Foucault "Sexuality and Solitude 367)Foucault locates these technologies of the self at the center of the process ofnormalization that has shifted the process of punishment from an outward display ofpower as in medieval executions to an internal process in

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

1654 words - 7 pages : The Birth of the Prison” (Foucault, 1979) he speaks on the shift from sovereign to disciplinary power; where force or punishment was no longer necessary. This power was not only displayed in prisons but mental hospitals as well and focused more on the use of surveillance to control individuals so they would behave as expected or normal based on self-discipline. Foucault agreed with Bentham’s Panopticon theory as it supported and reflected his

Why Prisons became the preferred method of punishment

2160 words - 9 pages functional relationship between the economic organisation of society, its labour supply and prison as a form of punishment. Foucault believed that punishment as prison enhanced the development of more repressive and pervasive forms of state control over an individual. Elias brought a unique view towards the history of punishment in that he introduced the idea of the civilising process. Finally Ignatieff held a revisionist account of penal history and

Compare and contrast two social science views about the ordering of social life.

1611 words - 7 pages punishment that show society who is in charge and who sets the rules. He calls this a disciplinary society where no one breaks the rules for fear of being reprimanded for their wrongdoings (Silva, 2009, p.320). To summarise, both Goffman and Foucault have similarities and differences in almost every aspect of their theories. Goffman, while concerned with the individual, uses participant observation to gain insight into the everyday practices

The Utopia of Orwell and Foucault

1372 words - 5 pages The Utopia of Orwell and Foucault “Two ways of exercising power over men, of controlling their relations, of separating out their dangerous mixtures. The plague stricken town, transversed throughout with hierarchy, surveillance, observation, writing; the town immobilized by the functioning of an extensive power that bears in a distinct way over all individual bodies-this is the utopia of the perfectly governed city” (Foucault, 6) This quote


1112 words - 4 pages members of society against the challenge to their collective values. The form of punishment changes between mechanic (torture, execution) and organic (prison) solidarity because the values of society change but the idea behind punishing, the essence, stays the same - keeping the moral order intact not decreasing crime. Foucault has a different view of the role or function of punishment. For Foucault, punishment signifies political control. His theory

In a world of increasing globalization, and individualization, we are more concerned with our own lives, choices, destiny than with the lives, choices, destiny of others

2175 words - 9 pages harmony.MICHEL FOUCAULT: You talk as if globalization is the key to world peace.ANTHONY GIDDEN: Is it not?MICHEL FOUCAULT: I do not see how it can be so for you are forgetting the fundamental flaw of globalization.ANTHONY GIDDEN: And what might that be?MICHEL FOUCAULT: It is based on money.ANTHONY GIDDEN: Ah. You are a cynic, I see; one who diminishes the value of money in the hope of doing so will create peace whilst neglecting to admit the

'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' Relation to Foucault's Argument

1968 words - 8 pages The movie, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”, is a film that relates to Foucault’s analysis of discipline and punishment. Foucault’s argument is that power works in a disciplinary way in current society. The movie can relate to this because the institution that the movie took place in was ran using Foucault’s disciplinary technique. There are many scenes from the film that give an analysis of Foucault’s argument. Foucault believes that

Similar Essays

The Discourse Of Power. Michael Foucault: History Of Sexuality & Crime And Punishment

1844 words - 8 pages saidand nowhere else."Control over body and soul is the primary focus ofDiscipline and Punish. Discipline and punishment areall about power relations between dominators and theirsubjects. For Foucault, truth is a human constructbased on power. This construct is chosen within theepisteme. There is already desire and power within thehuman quest for truth, and this is what Foucault isinterested in uncovering in examining power relations.He says truth

Discuss The Way In Which Power Relations Are Rooted In The Whole Social Philosophy, Politics And Ethics Essay

1606 words - 7 pages Foucault?s Discipline and Punish and his ideas on disciplinary power however, one can begin to see beneficial continuities between both Foucault and Marx?s account of power. Through using genealogy to map out the history of punishment, Foucault stated that a modern form a punishment was being used, that which is ?an organisation in depths of surveillance and control.?[footnoteRef:8] This can be seen through Foucault?s use of Jeremy Bentham?s outline

Paul Michel Foucault: A Philosophist Essay

1275 words - 6 pages Michel Foucault his full name was Paul-Michel Foucault, was born October 15, 1926, Poitiers France—died June 25, 1984, Paris. He the grandson of a physician.You could say that he was born into a solidly bourgeois family, Also his father was a doctor so you can see that being intelligent runs in the family, his mother was just any ordinary housewife Foucault’s mother, Anne, was likewise the daughter of a surgeon, and had longed to follow a

Social Order (Foucault And Goffman) Essay

1651 words - 7 pages normalisation and standardisation of this knowledge. This essay will examine two views on social order, applied to social sciences, and embodied in everyday life. It will compare and contrast a Canadian sociologist, Erving Goffman, and a French philosopher, Michel Foucault. Through an analysis of these two figures, the text will present different ways of looking at social ordering and individuals' place in a human society. Firstly, it will be shown how