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In Discipline & Punish, Michel Foucault analyzes the emergence of disciplinary practices, as they are understood in modern schools, militaries, and prisons.

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Introduction

Leonard Fisher In Discipline & Punish, Michel Foucault analyzes the emergence of disciplinary practices, as they are understood in modern schools, militaries, and prisons. Foucault understands the manifestations of modern disciplines in terms of a power-knowledge relationship. In Discipline & Punish he makes a change in his method of thinking about power-knowledge relations in using a genealogical method. The basic premise of the genealogical approach is that shifts of power in society alter the way knowledge is formed in society. Foucault's specific focus in the genealogical framework will be on the interrelation of non-discursive practices (control of bodies) and discursive practices (bodies of knowledge). In focusing on bodies of knowledge and the controlling of bodies Foucault shows how the greatest difference in the Modern Age of disciplines and the Classical Age is that Modern society is engulfed in disciplinary practices. Foucault believes that there is a misunderstanding by scholars when studying the history of discipline and punishment in the West. The misunderstanding is thinking that there is a progress in the way we treat criminals, or deviants, in compared with the forms of punishment used in the Classical Age. In order to view this misunderstanding Foucault begins Discipline & Punish with a horrific example of public torture that was commonplace treatment of a criminal in the Classical Age, which immediately provokes the reader to feel that the Modern Age has accomplished definite 'progress'. ...read more.

Middle

The goal in the third mechanism is to exercise control over the complete production of an act instead of just the result of the act. The Modern Prison exemplifies this when it keeps a record of the prisoner's movements or affect. The fact that the prisoner does not break the rules is secondary too the way he goes about not breaking the rules. The control of processes is easily seen in the Modern economy. The Modern wage laborer is prescribed a code of ethics, timetable, and a contract. All of the later are mechanisms that concern the production of the product rather than the product itself. It does not matter if one is able to produce a product if does not fit within the proscribed process. The result of the control of the body, the details of bodily movements, and the process of production is "the docile body." In order to achieve the function of rendering "the docile body" the Modern Age has developed distinctive mechanisms. The first of the mechanism's that Foucault mentions that are put in place to achieve a "docile body" is the Hierarchal Observations. Foucault locates the model of this method in the Bentham's 'Panopticon.' ...read more.

Conclusion

The student is constantly checked to make sure they are in order with "the norm" by a written or oral examination. The function of the school examination provides the exact same function of the prison examination, but in a new social space. The mechanisms of the Hierarchal Observation, Normalizing Judgment, and Examination ensure that "the docile body" is achieved. The mechanisms of docility are present throughout the entire stratum of society. Although the Modern disciplinary practices developed in the isolated space of the prison they have spread throughout society into schools, hospitals, factories, courts, and various other spaces. These disciplinary practiced do not just locate the normal form of behavior, but also act as a positive force of knowledge. The mechanisms achieve "the docile body" that allow for the coding of the individual of any given knowledge. A clue to just how vast disciplinary practices are in the Modern Age is the disappearance of "the outlaw," which is now taken up with "the deviant." There is no way to get 'out'side the law, but one remains in a deviant form that is located within the disciplinary space. There is no escaping the mechanisms of power throughout society, as mechanisms of power-knowledge will continue to flourish in many different transformations. However, by not mistaking these transformations as necessary for 'progress' and getting the mechanism to operate in your favor, one can achieve real progress. 1 ...read more.

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