Compare and contrast two social
science views about the ordering
of social life.
Michel Foucault: Discipline
& Punish (the birth of the
• Michel Foucault’s is
concerned with discovering
the ‘birth’ and development
of the modern prison.
• The ways of thinking
associated with this
• And the impact on modern
• Read the following excerpt
Grow/be shaped in ways
required by the State …
The Panopticon (prison)
Modern Society: transition towards …
• Discourse(s) to shape, perpetuate these
– How do ‘discourses’ influence/regulate our lives?
• Foucault argues that one of the main [and most
important] points of the modern prison system
was that of achieving ‘discipline’ and control over
the bodies and minds of the offenders.
• Whilst the ideas of Bentham’s panopticon were
never fully implemented – clearly, the means of
physical and mental control (and discipline) were.
• Consider the following points taken from
Foucault’s book, which explains the impact of the
modern prison system developed:
• “What was then being formed was a policy of coercions that act upon the
body, a calculated manipulation of its elements, its gestures, its behaviour.
• The human body was entering a machinery of power that explores it,
breaks it down and rearranges it. A ‘political anatomy’, which was also a
‘mechanics of power’,
• it defined how one may have a hold over others’ bodies, not only so that
they may do what one wishes, but so that they may operate as one
• with the techniques, the speed and the efficiency that one determines.
Thus discipline produces subjected and practised bodies, ‘docile’ bodies.”
(Foucault. 1991, p, 138)
• What do you think Foucault means by ‘docile’ bodies?
– These are all part of the State’s Anatomy of Power
– Discourse (again)
– As prisoners of our own ‘social-space-that-is-totally-regulated’ –
– We are held in ‘darkness’, prevented from observing our
– This reinforces Foucault's idea of a citizen who "is seen, but he
does not see; he is the object of information, never a subject in
communication" (Foucault, 1979).
• Docile Bodies
• Carceral Society