Location of Repository

Power/knowledge - untying the knot : an examination of a penological method

By Barry Vaughan


This thesis examines an assumption that has recently permeated social\ud theory, that power and knowledge constitute each other and are mutually\ud reinforcing. Knowledge is an instrument to be used to realise the interests\ud of some group, i. e. is subservient to agency. This assumption is oblivious to\ud the rise of realist social theory which has argued that the facilitating\ud frameworks of social life, structure and culture (which would typically\ud include 'knowledge') must be construed as having a causal influence\ud themselves, regardless of what people make of them or do despite them.\ud These do not automatically satisfy groups' wishes and may hinder them.\ud The power/knowledge thesis has taken greatest hold in the study of\ud prisons; it is argued that the penal reforms instituted in the 19th century\ud were designed to control prisoners so that what seemed like a benevolent\ud regime was actually an efficient mode of control. Thus the ideas that were\ud used to direct the treatment of offenders were a means of power over\ud prisoners. This thesis will incorporate historical material on the development\ud of the prisons and show that supporting ideas of reform was not necessarily\ud an exercise in power, so undercutting the principal thesis of the power/knowledge\ud school.\ud I will draw on recent developments in social theory to show how the\ud interplay between power and knowledge might be better conceived. I will\ud argue that only by estimating the logical connection between ideas can we\ud understand their proper role- how they may facilitate or frustrate action. Thus I will query whether reform ever gained the prominence it did and\ud show that it had always to be balanced by its logical counterpart,\ud deterrence

Topics: HV
OAI identifier: oai:wrap.warwick.ac.uk:4167

Suggested articles



  1. (1981). A History of doi
  2. (1990). A Study in Social Theory, doi
  3. An Inquiry whether Crime and Misery are produced or prevented by our doi
  4. (1986). Bentham and the Common Law Tradition, Clarendon Press, doi
  5. (1925). Boundaries of English Penal Policy',
  6. (1993). Censure and Sanctions, doi
  7. (1988). Criminology before 1935, British Journal of Criminology, doi
  8. (1979). Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, doi
  9. (1911). Lombroso's Criminal doi
  10. (1988). Memorials of Millbank- and Chapters in Prison History (2 vols. ) 1875 Harding, C., 'The inevitable end of a discredited system? '
  11. (1992). Politics of Criminal Law: Reform in the 19th Century, Barry Rose Law Publishers, doi
  12. (1987). Power: A Philosophical Analysis,
  13. (1974). Power: A Radical View, doi
  14. (1978). Prison Palaces: A Re-Appraisal of Early Victorian Prisons, 1835-77' doi
  15. (1986). Prison Reform in Lancashire, 1700-1850, a study in local administration, doi
  16. (1990). Reformatory Projects and the English Prison Commission, doi
  17. Reports of Select Committees and Royal Commis Select Committee on Penitentiary Houses (Holford Committee), Second Report,
  18. (1992). Select Committee on the Best Mode of Giving Efficacy to Secondary Punishments, PP vol. 7,1831 Select Committee of the House of Lords on Gaols and Houses of Correction in
  19. (1983). Society and Total Institutions', doi
  20. (1991). The Legitimation ofPower,
  21. (1983). The mission to the English police courts, 1876-1936, doi
  22. (1962). The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, doi
  23. (1961). The Struggle for Penal Reform: The Howard League and its Predecessors, Stevens & Sons,
  24. (1991). The Uses of Power'
  25. (1995). Theory: the morphogenetic approach, doi

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.