ENGL2010panopticon - le Final Paper May 2 2007 Efficiency...

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, le Final Paper May 2, 2007 Efficiency Panopticon The word panopticon can generally be defined as a building or complex that allows for all periphery points to be visible from the center. However, as an idea or theory, panopticism carries much more significant implications within our society. Metaphorically speaking, this idea can represent all that governs modern civilization in a general sense as well as numerous specific institutions in society. From the medieval age to the present, panopticism, through its constant exercising of power and preventative nature, has been the strongest form of regulation in society. The original panopticon came about naturally as a way to combat the spread of the Bubonic Plague in Europe towards the end of the 17 th century. According to Foucault, “The plague gave rise to disciplinary projects… It called for multiple separations, individualizing distributions, an organization in depth of surveillance and control, an intensification and ramification of power.” 1 Foucault believed that this form of regulation came about due to the complexities of dealing with the plague, which was a disease far worse than any known in history. At this time, this kind of epidemic called for drastic measures including experimentation in its regulation. He describes this theory when he writes of the plague as “a political dream” which called for “penetration of regulation into even the smallest details of everyday life through the mediation of the complete hierarchy that assured the capillary functioning of power.” 2 The plague made 1 Michel Foucault (NY: Vintage Books 1995) pp. 195-228 translated from the French by Alan Sheridan © 1977. 2 Foucault 195-218
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people visible to the authorities in the absolute sense. Since they were to remain within their households at all times, they could also readily be observed at all times by those above them on the social hierarchy. Not only could they be seen at will, but there was no way of hiding the fact that one was infected with the plague. These conditions set up the construction, at least in theory, of the ideal societal panopticon. It is for that reason that Foucault saw this as one of the first concrete examples of panopticism in effect. Foucault believes the panopticon to be the most efficient disciplinary mechanism
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This note was uploaded on 02/27/2008 for the course ENGL 2010 taught by Professor Winokur during the Spring '07 term at Colorado.

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ENGL2010panopticon - le Final Paper May 2 2007 Efficiency...

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