Panopticism

Topics: Prison, Michel Foucault, Panopticon Pages: 2 (778 words) Published: September 18, 2013
Robin Relosa
Abby Orenstein
Panopticism Summary
In Michel Foucault's (1975) excerpt, Panopticism he states that the development of discipline in the 18th and 19th centuries came from he emergence of prison as the form of punishment for every crime. During these times the major crimes committed were from the French Revolution and the major riots and civil unrest in the French society. In these prisons the Panopticon puts the inmates in a different state in which each one is there own separate individual. Foucault states that the major effect of these Panopticon are that they “induce the inmate in a state of conscious and permanent visibility that assures the automatic functioning of power.” ”Such a structure allows individuals to be seen and restricts their ability to communicate with the security, the warden, or other prisoners." In this case, crowds are nonexistent and each person is confined to their cell where they can be viewed by the watcher. He states that this new form of punishment lead to the development of a whole new kind of individuality for bodies. The brilliance of this prison is that the Panopticon forces blindness onto the prisoner where he or she is never sure if someone’s watching or not, inducing a harmless form of paranoia, keeping people in place.

When a person is accused of a crime, society finds upon itself the responsibility of punishing him or her. The question of morality, however, is finding the perfect punishment in compensation of the crime that was committed. With the Panopticon, rather than breaking them down physically by using tortures like the thumbscrew or whips, prisoners can be broken down mentally, which allows the reconstruction of their mentality. This entire theory is effective due to the natural desire that people in general have to conform to society’s pressures. After all, it is ingrained in the natural being of humans to know that in order to survive, everyone needs a place in society whether it is as the...
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