"Panopticism" by Michel Foucault

Essay by BanditKongCollege, UndergraduateB, March 2007

download word file, 4 pages 5.0

Downloaded 107 times

"Our society is not one of spectacle, but of surveillance; under the surface of images, one invests bodies in depth; behind the great abstraction of exchange, there continues the meticulous concrete training of useful forces; the circuits of communication are the supports of an accumulation and a centralization of knowledge; the play of signs defines the anchorages of power; it is not that the beautiful totality of the individual is amputated, repressed, altered by our social order, it is rather that the individual is carefully fabricated in it, according to a whole technique of forces and bodies." (240, Foucault)In the essay, Panopticism, by Michel Foucault, he makes the argument that we live in a society of "surveillance". It is mainly this surveillance that forms the basis of authority that draws the individual to believe that the world he lives in is one that is continually watching over him. This becomes another aspect of power where it underlies the main idea of separation as one of the many forms of forces in the Panopticon.

The effects of surveillance are clearly discussed in Foucault's essay. The infected population was always observed by presenting themselves at their windows for attendance. If they did not look out the window at that time, they would be considered and marked as dead. Their family would be removed, the house would be cleaned out, perfumed, and then, mere hours later, people would move back in. Obviously, the fear of not being watched would be strong in this situation, resulting in drastic measures taken once someone could not be watched. The plague stands as a representation against which the idea of discipline was created. The existence of a whole set of techniques for measuring and supervising abnormal beings brings into play the disciplinary mechanisms created by the...