For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison

by Foucault, Michel (1979)

Key Passage

For the prison has a purpose, which is laid down at the outset: 'The law inflicting penalties, some of which are more serious than others, cannot allow the individual condemned to light penalties to be imprisoned in the same place as the criminal condemned to more serious penalties .. . although the penalty fixed by the law has as its principal aim the reparation of the crime, it also desires the amendment of the guilty man' (Real, 244). And this transformation must be one of the internal effects of imprisonment. Prison-punishment, prison-apparatus: 'The order that must reign in the maison de force may contribute powerfully to the regeneration of the convictsl the vices of upbringing, the contagion of bad example, idleness .. . have given birth to crime. Well, let us try to close up all these sources of corruption; let the rules of a healthy morality be practised in the maisons deforce; that, compelled to work, convicts may come in the end to like it; when they have reaped the reward, they will acquire the habit, the taste, the need for occupation; let them give each other the example of a laborious life; it will soon become a pure life; soon they will begin to know regret for the past, the first harbinger of a love of duty.' The techniques of correction immediately form part of the institutional framework of penal detention. (p.233)


Discipline, Foucault, Capitalism, Biopower


Discipline and Punish, Foucault Citations, History of Work

Links to Reference


Sheridan, A.



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