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In an interview, Foucault states: What I wanted to show is the fact that, starting from a certain conception of the basis of the right to punish, one can find in the work of penal experts and philosophers of the 18 century that different means of punishment were perfectly conceivable. one finds a whole spectrum of means to punish that are suggested, and finally it happens that the prison was in some way, the privileged one (Foucault, in Lotringer, 1989, p.286).
Using the prison as an example, Foucault demonstrates how such disciplinary institutions utilize different techniques to form ‘docile bodies’: a direct coercion of the body to produce both productive subjects and instruments with which to channel power (Foucault, 1977, p.136). [Accessed 6 September 2019]; Available from: https://
Download the worksheet as a Word doc here: Foucault’s Panopticism – Guided Reading Questions 1.
From pages 209 to 212, Foucault describes the response to the plague in Europe.
Disciplinary institutions are, by and large, places where power is exercised and coursed through various mechanisms.
Without doubt, it is in (1977) that Foucault’s concern with discipline and surveillance becomes even more pronounced than his other genealogical works.At the outset, he shows how torture and execution was made a public spectacle; with the condemned man being paraded in a manner deemed suited to the crime he committed.Interestingly however, public tortures and executions soon became a ‘hidden’ affair, with the condemned man being transferred secretly from one place to another in a manner as inconspicuous as possible, using plain carriages with no particular distinguishing mark indicating that the cargo was a convicted felon. Be sure to read the summary and description of the author’s life in the beginning of the chapter.If you need some help understanding the basic concepts in the essay, check out the general summary on Spark Notes.In the following part, it will be made evident that for Foucault, the institutional role of the prison-model of society paves the way for control and observation. At the end of the chapter entitled Panopticism, Foucault explicitly stated: The practice of placing individuals under ‘observation’ is a natural extension of a justice imbued with disciplinary methods and examination procedures. Is it surprising that the cellular prison, with its regular chronologies, forced labour, its authorities of surveillance and registration, and its experts in normality, who continue and multiply the functions of the judge, should have become the modern instrument of penality? In this particular passage, Foucault outlines the mechanisms that the prison uses in controlling criminality. Is it surprising that prisons resemble factories, schools, barracks, hospitals, which all resemble prisons? On closer examination, what he in fact outlines are the mechanisms that operate within different social institutions. Draw a Venn diagram or chart to show this comparison. What were the primary purposes of Bentham’s Panopticon?(pages 213-217) What features would make a perfect Panopticon? Starting on page 218, Foucault compares the Panopticon to a “laboratory.” At this point in the essay, he has presented schools, factories, hospitals and prisons as examples of Panoptic institutions. How does this experimentation increase the subjectivity of the average person? What is the connection between the “plague-stricken town” and the “panoptic establishment”? On page 225, Foucault writes, “One also sees the spread of disciplinary procedures, not in the form of enclosed institutions, but as centers of observation disseminated throughout society.” In your own society, who or what functions as “centers of observation”?