The Commuter Train as a Disciplinary Apparatus: Bodies and Order

Abstract Shot of the AMT train cabins

Abstract Shot of the AMT train cabins Photo: Ana Patricia Bourgeois

In “Discipline and Punish” (1975), Foucault focuses on the regulation of bodies and the question of power within particular institutions, using Bentham’s idea of the panopticon. Drawing upon Foucault’s interpretation of technologies of power, as well as Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenological understanding of the environment, and Lefebvre’s idea from which politics and ideologies are embedded within spaces, this research project will focus on the commuter train as a disciplinary device, therefore adding an additional layer to Foucault’s argument. We believe that commuter trains tend to reinforce existing discourses around the orientation of our bodies within this particular space, therefore acting as a disciplinary device similar to the panopticon. We hope to arrive at a better understanding of this space by unpacking the different ways it forces us to behave, as well as the ways discipline is displayed. We believe that this research paper will fit within the greater discourse of this class about how our bodies relate to particular spaces and also about what kind of ideologies are at stake within such spaces. The commuter train doesn’t only help us to go from point A to point B; it is tightly related with old ideologies and follows important paradigmatic assumptions that have been perpetuated throughout the years about acceptable ways to behave within a public space.

*Want to learn more about our topic? Ask us the full copy! 

By Sarah Bibeau and Ana-Patricia Bourgeois

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Bibliography (sample)

Foucault, Michel. “Panopticism.” Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. New York: Pantheon, 1977. Pp.195-228. Print.

Harris, Richard. “Chapter 1-2.” Creeping Conformity: How Canada Became Suburban, 1900-1960. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2004. Pp. 3-45. Print.

Lefebrve, Henri. “The Production of Space.” In Gieseking, Jen J. And William Mangold, (Eds.), The People, Place, and Space Reader. (289-293). London: Routledge.

Merleau-Ponty. “The Experience of the Body and Classical Psychology.” In Mariam Fraser and Monica Greco (Eds.) The Body: A Reader. Pp. 52-54. London: Routledge.

Monahan, Torin. “SURVEILLANCE AS CULTURAL PRACTICE.” The Sociological Quarterly 52.4 (2011): 495-508. JSTOR. Web. 16 Mar. 2015.

Obermeyer, Nancy J. “Moving Violations: Data Privacy in Public Transit.” Geographical Review 97.3, Geosurveillance (2007): 351-64. JSTOR. Web. 16 Mar. 2015.

 

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3 comments

  1. No pressure or anything, but I *am* curious as to what the whole paper looks like, since you ask! It seems relevant to my interests.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That was worth a read! 🙂 The train’s wider range opened issues that the metro does not; the passage through First Nations territory was a good idea to bring up. The ambiguity because the train began transport merchandise and evolved to people but still treating people kind of like merchandise also was, and I notice influenced how the metro was designed even though *it* never transported merchandise. Your paper also goes deeper into the private/public divide on transit than mine did, in ways that were relatable to read about. Thanks for the link!

      Like

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