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Discipline & Punish: The Birth of the Prison Paperback – April 25, 1995
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Text: English (translation)
Original Language: French
About the Author
Michel Foucault was born in Poitiers, France, in 1926. He lecturerd in universities throughout the world; served as director at the Institut Francais in Hamburg, Germany and at the Institut de Philosophi at the Faculte des Lettres in the University of Clermont-Ferrand, France; and wrote frequently for French newspapers and reviews. At the time of his death in 1984, he held a chair at France's most prestigious institutions, the College de France.
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Top customer reviews
Our correctional and justice system needs to be blown up and to start up from the ground up!
Foucault's book here is one long delayed-thesis essay. In it he traces history as philosophy coming to the thesis that all social interactions have become part of the prison-like system that we live in, in the western world. School, work, even the hospital place us as subjects of potential surveillance that exist to normalize us. What is the worst aspect of the `carceral' is that we cannot opt out of the system, as it is all-encompassing.
Aside from the main thrust of the argument Foucault makes, there are a lot of interesting bits to learn about theories of punishment through time. The information leans too heavily on post-enlightenment, European theories and history, but that is acceptable. Nothing ever happened in Europe or Asia until the colonial benefactors decided to divest themselves of the burden. A minor critique is that the reading is a little dry. Neither Foucault nor his translator were able to spice things up enough. Maybe elsewhere he carried some polemic and show some passion. Interestingly enough, the authorial presence only comes in during the last sentence.
Overall I would recommend the book to people who are interested in theory. However, I am certain that unless you need the full accounting of the work, there are other venues to get a quick gloss on the main points of the argument. These might be helpful for the student, but the philosopher needs to read the book.