panoptic - 1 Andrew Vlock Panopticism English 101...

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1 Andrew Vlock Panopticism English 101 Panopticism is the concept that visibility changes human behavior. This term comes from the famous 20 th century philosopher Michel Foucault who argued that people are different when under surveillance. This difference occurs from outside pressure being exerted on an individual. Foucault came to this conclusion by observing the prison structure: the Panopticon. It is a structure where, …at the periphery, an annular building; at the center, a tower; this tower is pierced with wide windows that open onto the inner side of the ring; the peripheral building is divided into cells, each which extends the whole width of the building they have two windows, one on the inside, corresponding to the windows of the tower; the other, on the outside, allows the light to cross the cell from one end to the other. All that is needed, then, is to place a superior central tower and to shut up each cell a madman, a patient, a condemned man, a worker, or a schoolboy (226). The basic principle of this structure is to allow an overseer or guard to look out on the world without being seen. The authority of the guard is, "visible, but unverifiable" (227). This gives the subjects the feeling that they are being watched or observed. This feeling, in turn, places “panoptic power” on the subject and changes their behavior. So Foucault uses the term Panopticism to express a power that exerts itself between individuals laterally. This power shapes how a person acts in the presence of others. This is called the panoptic effect. He argues, “…it is not that the beautiful totality of the individual is amputated, repressed, altered by our
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2 social order, it is rather that the individual is carefully fabricated by it…” (241). Foucault argues
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panoptic - 1 Andrew Vlock Panopticism English 101...

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