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The body as an object to be acted upon, but also as the subject of "political technology" is present throughout the work. Beginning with public execution, where the body is horrifically displayed, Foucault charts the transition to a situation where the body is no longer immediately affected. The body will always be affected by punishment—because we cannot imagine a non-corporal punishment—but in the modern system, Foucault says, the body is arranged, regulated and supervised rather than tortured. At the same time, the overall aim of the penal process becomes the reform of the soul, rather than the punishment of the body. Eventually, the concepts of the individual and the delinquent replace the reality of the body as the focus of attention, but the body of the criminal still plays a role. If anything can be seen as constant in this work, it is the idea that the body and punishment are closely linked.
Ace your assignments with our guide to Discipline and Punish!