Foucault Paper.docx - Andrea Sagay Bradley MacDonald Pols...

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Andrea SagayBradley MacDonaldPols 421March 29, 2018Foucault Prompt #3Panopticon in the Contemporary WorldIn Michel Foucault’s Discipline and Punish, published in 1964, Foucault discuss theidea of the panopticon that was developed by Jeremy Bentham. A panopticon is a buildingwith a tower at the center from which it is possible to see each cell in which a prisoner isincarcerated. Panopticism, for Foucault, is this condition of feeling constantly undersurveillance. The panopticon and panopticism remain very relevant in today’s society.Beginning with surveillance cameras and going as far social media, everyone is usuallybeing watched, with or without their knowledge and that affects the way humans behave. In Discipline and Punish, Foucault explains and updates Bentham’s theory of thepanopticon and creates his theory of panopticism. Bentham’s panopticon was essentially aprison used for constant surveillance of its prisoners. The prison would have a tower in thecenter of it, where each prisoner in their cell could be seen from the tower by the guards. Theprisoners would always be able see the tower, but they would never know when they werebeing watched. Therefore, the panopticon would create a sense of permanent visibility, whichwould ensure obedience, giving the prisoners the responsibility to regulate their own
behavior (Foucault, p.201). This, is what Foucault claims as "the major effect of thePanopticon: to induce in the inmate a state of conscious and permanent visibility that assuresthe automatic functioning of power" (Foucault, p.201). The term "panopticism" was thenformed from this idea and can be applied to different social contexts and institutions, where itis the surveillance of the public's social norms and habits within society (Foucault, p.207).The feeling of always being watched usually hinders bad behavior or encourages "normal" oracceptable behavior. This means that disturbances and conflicts are stopped before they evenstart, causing the power of an institution to lie within the vulnerability of individuals in agiven society (Foucault, p.202). According to Foucault the effect of the Panopticon in thepenal system or prisons dramatically changed by the psychological way of punishment,resulting in no physical punishment.The concept of the Panopticon in the penal system, which showed immediate successin reform and discipline, eventually lead to it being linked to every component of the modernsociety. Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon and Foucault concept of Panopticism can seen inmany aspects today in our society. The idea of panopticon can be found numerous places andsituations like, schools, hospital, factories, asylums, and even universities. All of these placeshave some kind of surveillance system that often promoted constant “good” or acceptablebehavior, depending on the rules of the institution. Many people in society may not like thatthey are constantly being watched and monitored. The use of panopticon in surveillancesystems in society has proven to be efficient, effective and functional.

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