Foucault cites Panopticon, a prison model devised by mid-eighteenth century British philosopher Jeremy Bentham, as the fundamental insight into modern disciplinary institutions.
Because of its “unequal gaze,” the prison optimized surveillance of all prisoners.
In the second part, Punishment, Foucault discusses the “gentle punishments” that preceded prisons. Reformists, Foucault writes, really wanted the state to have the ability to judge and punish anyone.
With this impulse, “mini-theatres” of punishments arose, such as chain gains.
Regarding public spectacles or ceremonies of torture, Foucault asserts that this was intended by the state to make the punishment, even if unjust, seem just; to give the state, which had a grievance, a body to take its anger out on; to reflect the violence of the original crime and warn other citizens to avoid it.
Pivot Sentence Essay - Discipline Versus Punishment Essay
Torture was also used to retrieve a confession that justified the court’s investigation.
These constructions can only happen when people are constantly observed and when they internalize ruling class principles in regards to their body, what activities are “natural,” what is expected of them in the future, and what they can do as a group.
(Respectively, Foucault calls these “individualities”: cellular, organic, genetic, and combinatory).
Foucault says this is why “gentle punishments” like chain gains went away: this Panopticon model was far more efficient.
In the final part, Prison, Foucault demonstrates how prisons are part of a “carceral system” that also operates in factories, hospitals, schools, and the military–really every part of modern society.