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4.7 out of 5 stars34
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 3 April 2013
Michel Foucault was one of the most influential thinkers of the twentieth century - and rightly so. In 'Discipline and Punish', he examines the rise of the prison system in France. He argues that in the Middle Ages punishment was a public spectacle (the book begins with a detailed account of the gruesome execution of Damiens the regicide in Paris 1757). However, in the period of the Enlightenment - especially in Post Revolutionary France - punishment took on a more 'scientific' form. .

Ostensibly, the prison system that was then created sought not only punitive redress for crime, but also became a way to reform the criminal. In the process, the prison system built an entire rationale with prison guards, administrators, scientists, magistrate who regulated - often by the hour - the daily life of the prisoner.

Foucault argues that this systematic ordering of the prison system reflects broader patterns in Western institutions such as schools and hospitals. These patterns are embedded in the relationship between power and knowledge. These institutions are taken over by the need for power (presumably of elites?) In the process, these institutions create knowledge about their subjects (prisoners, workers, students?) which serve the interests of the powerful.

Foucault's thesis is a skillful critique of objectivist conceptions of knowledge. Knowledge - created by actors such as consultants, academics etc. in the modern world - is hardly neutral. Instead, it is wedded to the needs of the powerful even if the actors are not aware of it. One may argue whether all fields of knowledge are equally culpable, however, Foucault's critique challenges social scientists to be reflexive; to be aware of the roles that their work may play in furthering the interests of power.

Foucault's thought draws on Nietzschean conceptions of power and Marxian notions of class struggle. Yet, Foucault avoids the eschatological pronouncements of the latter. His critical insight into the interdependence of power and knowledge has permeated the social sciences and influenced scholars such Edward Said (Orientalism) to develop post-colonial theory. As a management scholar, I appreciate Foucault's trenchant analysis of knowledge and power. Furthermore, I admire his erudition and intellectual élan. Discipline and Punish is a must-read for critical social scientists. As such, it deserves four stars.
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on 29 December 2011
It explains everything about management and especially if you want to look into the surveillance theme ! I really very much enjoyed it !
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on 15 April 2007
If you are interested about justice, sociology and society you should some day read this excellent story of how control over people has changed within last five hundred years. Perhaps mr Foucault was inspired by Orwell's 1984 and turned it to be scientifically consistent theory or control. Great thing is that you don't need to be scientist to understand about this book which means that it must have been hard work to make the text sound as easily to comprehend.
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on 23 April 2014
Foucault makes you think about things that you've never stopped to think about before and in ways that you never would have.
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on 12 October 2015
An acknowledged classic of Sociology. This MP3 audiobook is well read. Make dog walking very productive
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on 14 October 2015
A good reflection and account on violence and the origins of punishment.
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on 14 December 2014
Again, very concise and to the point, very philosophical. Great read.
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on 31 October 2010
As a huge fan of Foucault's work, this is a fab book to add to any collection! The delivery time was great with the book arriving just a couple of days after placing my order using 'Supersave Delivery'. Whilst the overall condition of the book was good, the corners were slightly scuffed - but that would be being really critical! This by no means detracts from the ingenuity and quality of Foucault's work yet again! Enjoy!
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on 26 August 2014
First rate analysis by the master of French thought.
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on 5 January 2016
Bought as a gift, very well received by recipient.
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