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(2008, 03-24) English Essay 3

(2008, 03-24) English Essay 3 - Ahmed 1 The Validity of...

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Ahmed 1 The Validity of Surveillance Tanvir Ahmed April 6, 2008 English 110 - Grubb
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Ahmed 2 What gives validity to the usage of surveillance? In many part of the world, countries rely on surveillance of individuals in order to keep citizens in order from rebelling against the leaders. However, no one can doubt that there are flaws and many rights disobeyed with the use of surveillance. French philosopher Michel Foucault discusses an example of surveillance “Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison”, analyzing prisons and the idea of having prisoners under watch by a central tower, having all kept under order. It is best explained by Foucault, stating “In this central tower, the director may spy on all the [prisoners] that he has under his orders [and] judge them continuously, alter their behavior, impose upon them the methods he thinks best; and it will even be possible to observe the director himself” (Foucault 231). Foucault’s idea of a world under watch allows society to rid of all incompetence and anarchy brought by individuals and, through the protection from threats, a utopia can be pursued. The definition of a Panopticon is best analyzed by Foucault’s description: We know the principle on which it was based: at the periphery, an annular building; at the center, a tower, this tower is pierced with wide windows that open onto the inner side
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Ahmed 3 of the ring; the peripheric building is divided into cells, each of which extends the whole width of the building…All that is needed, then, is to place a supervisor in a central tower and to shut up in each cell a madman, a patient, a condemned man, a worker, or a schoolboy. By the effect of backlighting, one can observe from the tower, standing out precisely against the light, the small captive shadows in the cells of the periphery. (225- 226) Basically, the Panopticon is a central building surrounded by cells, where a person inside the tower will be able to see prisoners in plain sight [see pg. 2]. The leaders are in charge of surveillance and make sure all prisoners are separated and do not cause harm towards others. Foucault says it best when he compares it to a dungeon, saying “[it reverses] its three functions —to enclose, to deprive of light, and to hide—it preserves only the first and eliminates the other two” (226). The prison will allow reform to begin for the prisoners and ensure that they are in accordance to how the central tower’s leader expects them to behave. This also instills a fear in all prisoners, as it makes them scared to even plot any attempts of disobeying the rules, as they is no chance of succeeding in it because “in the peripheric ring, one is totally seen, without ever seeing [and] in the central tower, one sees everything without ever being seen” (228). The chances of wrongdoings are decreased.
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