Michael Foucaults Panopticism

Topics: Prison, Jeremy Bentham, Michel Foucault Pages: 2 (879 words) Published: March 30, 2011
Society: Comparison to the Panopticon
According to Wikepedia, a panopticon is a type of prison where the observer is able to watch the prisoners without the prisoner knowing when they are being watched. The concept of the design is to allow an observer to observe (-opticon) all (pan-) prisoners thereby conveying what one architect has called the "sentiment of an invisible omnisciece. The panopticon was invented by English philosopher Jeremy Bentham in 1785. Bentham himself described the Panopticon as "a new mode of obtaining power of mind over mind, in a quantity hitherto without example.” Michel Foucault, a French philosopher and historian of ideas uses this term in his book Discipline and Punish the Birth of the Prison as a metaphor to explain society. I will try to breakdown this metaphor to explain what Foucault means by this.Foucault explains we are living in a system where everything we do is survellience, thus we are living in a panopticon. We may feel that we have total privacy, but if we really sit back and observe we will come to an understanding that we are always being surveillance. Everything we do is recorded and monitored just like in the panopticon. We can not go to the store without cameras watching us or drive down the highway freely speeding without fear of getting caught by a police watching us. As similar to the panopticon we do not exactly know when we are being watched, but when we get the feeling we are being watched, we tend to try and behave perfectly. . “The Panopticon is a machine for dissociating the see/being seen dyad: in the peripheric ring, one is totally seen, without ever seeing; in the central tower, one sees everything without ever being seen.” But he also proposes that not only prisons but most ordered structures like schools, factories, hospitals, workforces all resemble Benthams panopticon. The purpose of this panoptcicon is to tame ind ividuals in a way of functioning power and discipline in order to have a...
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