Abstract: Before the early 19th century, European ideas of crime and punishment tended to involve very public displays of the power of the monarch and the power of the state against the offending individual. Nowhere was this tendency more evident than in the spectacle of public executions. Those convicted of murder, piracy, counterfeiting, or other notable capital crimes would be taken to a public place for hanging or decapitation, and certain kinds of crimes warranted particularly gruesome punishments. In Discipline and Punish, social theorist Michel Foucault directly confronts and challenges a number of existing ideas surrounding the prison reforms of the late 1700s and early 1800s, and even into the twentieth century. By looking at the evolution of justice systems (focusing primarily on France), he suggests that the shift away from public executions and towards the idea of incarceration and reform within prison walls was a means of reframing the image of the power of society over the individual. Public executions often had the effect of making a criminal into a public martyr, and the ballads and broadsides printed for the common people did less to condemn the crime and more to glorify the criminal. By shifting the focus of justice into the prison and out of the public eye, authorities would have more direct control over the lives of those who had violated the norms of society.
Title and contributions: Discipline and punish : the birth of the prison / Michel Foucault ; translated from the French by Alan Sheridan
Publication: London : Penguin books, 1991
Physical description: 333 p.,  p. di tav. : ill. ; 20 cm.
Language: eng (language of the text, soundtrack, etc..)
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