Disciplinary Mechanisms in Today's Society?

Topics: Michel Foucault, Panopticon, Jeremy Bentham Pages: 2 (726 words) Published: November 3, 2010
In the book Discipline and Punish: The Birth of Prison by Michel Foucault Describes how society in general can be compared to a prison due to the ways of discipline. He supports this notion from the chapter “Panopticism” in which he describes different methods of discipline and how they have played an effect in today’s society through three parts: economic, political and scientific. He takes us through times in history where we can see types of different discipline in these areas. Foucault begins with a description of the life in the seventeenth century after a terrible plague has broken out. The town goes to extreme measures by dividing the town into quarters, closing houses and streets; also they were kept under close surveillance by having random inspections or checkups by the syndics. If anyone were to leave their house they would be condemned to death. The town developed this order to quarantine the area and not allow it to spread. Lepers are also mentioned as an example of how communities used to deal with the sick to help maintain a clean and pure community. By drawing contras between the two we can see that that there has always been a way or model of dealing with abnormal people. The plague was handled by a disciplinary action to restrict what the town as a whole can or can not do, whereas the lepers were just banished and left to fend for themselves. The plague stands as an image for the idea of disciplinary mechanism.

Foucault also describes Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon, a Building with a tower in the center that has wide windows all around giving the tower a peripheral vision of the cells that surround it. The supervisor can see the inmates but the inmates can’t see the supervisor, as a result inmates behave on their own due to the possibility of someone watching. This ensures the carrying out power. Bentham said “that power should be visible yet unverifiable.” The panopticon allows one to do the work of a naturalist, in which experiments are...
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