The concept of carceral society refers to the spreading of techniques for regulating human behaviour and surveillance processes typical of modern prisons throughout society as a whole. The academic who made the relationship between power and surveillance his central point of observation more than any other is Michel Foucault. He devoted special attention to this issue, especially in his book Discipline and Punish. A central place in the analysis must be given to Foucault's idea of the Panopticon originally conceived by Jeremy Bentham, an architectural project for the construction of an ideal prison. This form of disciplinary power, Foucault notes, even tends to become operative beyond prison walls, encouraging the dissemination of a pervasive culture of control in all other total institutions in and all of society, which, in that sense, becomes a carceral society.
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