“Panopticism” by Michel Foucault Essay

“Our society is non one of spectacle. but of surveillance ; under the surface of images. one invests organic structures in deepness ; behind the great abstraction of exchange. there continues the punctilious concrete preparation of utile forces ; the circuits of communicating are the supports of an accretion and a centralisation of cognition ; the drama of marks defines the anchorages of power ; it is non that the beautiful entirety of the person is amputated. repressed. altered by our societal order. it is instead that the person is carefully fabricated in it. harmonizing to a whole technique of forces and organic structures. ” ( 240. Foucault ) In the essay. Panopticism. by Michel Foucault. he makes the statement that we live in a society of “surveillance” . It is chiefly this surveillance that forms the footing of authorization that draws the person to believe that the universe he lives in is one that is continually watching over him. This becomes another facet of power where it underlies the chief thought of separation as one of the many signifiers of forces in the Panopticon.

The effects of surveillance are clearly discussed in Foucault’s essay. The septic population was ever observed by showing themselves at their Windowss for attending. If they did non look out the window at that clip. they would be considered and marked as dead. Their household would be removed. the house would be cleaned out. perfumed. and so. mere hours subsequently. people would travel back in. Obviously. the fright of non being watched would be strong in this state of affairs. ensuing in drastic steps taken one time person could non be watched. The pestilence stands as a representation against which the thought of subject was created. The being of a whole set of techniques for mensurating and oversing unnatural existences brings into play the disciplinary mechanisms created by the fright of the pestilence.

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The Panopticon. is a prison that is “a machine for disassociating the see/being seen couple: in the peripheric ring. one is wholly seen. without of all time seeing. ” ( 228. Foucault ) This means that those who are being seen can non see one another and the 1 who sees everything can ne’er be seen. For the perceiver. the benefit of being observed is that is establishes the ability to command. alteration and influence the individual. The perceiver separates the person from the group by observation. thereby doing them separately cognizant of themselves. but chiefly the perceiver. This helps befog the construct of coherence with others and prevents organisation and confederacy. The panopticon architecture in which everyone is observed and analyzed is incorporated in a edifice that makes these operations easy to execute. The theory of subject develops out of the demand for surveillance shown in the pestilence. Plague steps were needed to protect society. which as a consequence allowed the panopticon to run power expeditiously.

Foucault makes this premise about today’s society by stating that we are ever being watched whether we know it or non. One ever keeps an oculus over their shoulder as a consequence of the changeless fright that person is watching them. The power gives those in charge a safety cyberspace. doing the single conscious of the presence of a concealed spectator. doing them to believe twice earlier moving.

An illustration found in today’s society would be the impression of Santa Claus and how Santa Claus can be used as a signifier of power to do kids act. “He knows when you are kiping. He knows when you’re awake. He knows if you’ve been bad or good. So be good for goodness interest. ” The vocal about Santa Claus is more than a Christmas carol. it is used to works the changeless fright in the head of a kid that they are being watched even when they can’t see who is making the observation. The mere menace at Christmas clip of this concealed force is adequate to maintain kids good behaved.

Another illustration is that when we are born. we are given a societal security figure and a record of our birth. Information goes into a database that is accessible to many people. The authorities and caput offices in the United States can track us with easiness since of all time occupation and school we can go to uses our societal security figure. There is non a individual bank account we can open or a loan we can have without people in higher topographic points cognizing about it. Even though we can non see people watching us. we are invariably being watched and tracked by our authorities. These are illustrations of many in our society.

Besides. verbal communicating in the Panopticon was non an option. The captives were non allowed to talk to one another. This bound on communicating dehumanizes the inmate. If one can non pass on. non merely is new cognition hard to derive. but one can non experience comfort in the simple cognition that they are non entirely.

Throughout this eternal mind-game. people do non hold the thought that they are fabricated and reshaped. Bing under surveillance has brought subject. “In the cardinal tower. one sees everything without of all time being seen. ” ( 226. Foucault ) Foucault describes the interior of the Panopticon where in the centre stands a guard. Whenever we walk into a retail shop. we are ever under observation. There is a round glass piece on the top of the ceiling with a revolving camera looking down upon each of our motions. We think person is watching us. And from that. we react with subject. It has proven to be a signifier of behaviour to give us a guilty witting or the simple fright of being caught.

In decision. Foucault’s statement may non be easy understood given the trouble of his authorship. but with the illustrations and cogent evidence of such the mind-games that we live in in our society today is a good manner of understanding his point of position. Michel Foucault’s Panopticism shows that society is under surveillance. The panopticon represents the manner in which subject and penalty work in modern society. where it shows how the procedures of observation and scrutiny map. Schools. mills. infirmaries and prisons resemble each other. non merely because they look similar. but because they examine students. workers. patients and captives. sort them as persons and attempt to do them conform to the “norm” . The fact that the modern citizen spends much of his life in at least some of these establishments reveals how far society has changed. We live in a society that watches over one’s motion to judge if their behaviour is incorrect. It is in ultimate fright and anxiousness that we live out our lives everyday.