We owe the idea of Carceral Nation to the genius mind of Michel Foucault and his argument for a growing carceral culture:

Michel Foucault seeks throughout his work to make sense of how our contemporary society is structured differently from the society that preceded us. He has been particularly influential precisely because he tends to overturn accepted wisdom, illustrating the dangers inherent in those Enlightenment reforms that were designed to correct the barbarity of previous periods (the elimination of dungeons, the modernization of medicine, the creation of the public university, etc.).As Foucault illustrates, each process of modernization entails disturbing effects with regard to the power of the individual and the control of government. Indeed, his most influential work, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, paints a picture of contemporary society that sometimes resembles George Orwell’s 1984. He explores the ways that government has claimed ever greater control over and enforcement of ever more private aspects of our lives.

In particular, Foucault explores the transition from what he terms a “culture of spectacle” to a “carceral culture.” Whereas in the former punishment was effected on the body in public displays of torture, dismemberment, and obliteration, in the latter punishment and discipline become internalized and directed to the constitution and, when necessary, rehabilitation of social subjects.

We learn from the associative minds of others and we propagate, and change, that knowing by divining self-realization and personal insights. Some minds change more of us. Foucault shattered all ordinary thinking.

Posted by David Boles

David Boles was born in Nebraska and his MFA is from Columbia University in the City of New York. He is an Author, Lyricist, Playwright, Publisher, Editor, Actor, Designer, Director, Poet, Producer, and Boodle Boy for print, radio, television, film, the web and the live stage. With more than 50 books in print, David continues to write 2MM words a year. He has authored over 25K articles and published more. Read the Prairie Voice Archive at Boles.com | Buy his books at David Boles Books Writing & Publishing | Earn the world with David Boles University | Get a script doctored at Script Professor | Touch American Sign Language mastery at Hardcore ASL.


  1. Dananjay Anandan December 7, 2008 at 12:01 am

    Great article, David!
    Those modules on Foucault were very interesting as well. Thanks!



  2. Foucault is a great mind that must be more widely read, Dananjay. Perhaps we can bring him even more light and focus in the time to come.



  3. […] government exists to serve the people it represents, not to oppress that people and to stifle any kind of information exchange that might benefit said people in any way. So it has […]



  4. […] money to house prisoners in cells when the idea is no longer reformation, but rather separation and dissonant punishment: One year at Princeton University: $37,000. One year at a New Jersey state prison: […]



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