Michel Foucault’s work in which he titled Panopticism, he explains his views on power; how it is operated, obtained and sustained. He based the word panopticism on Jeremy Bentham’s panopticon - an architectural design of a building that enables the one who possesses agency to see each cell that a subject of power is incarcerated to. Foucault writes that “Visibility is a trap” (Foucault, 286) because the tower is used to “induce in the inmate a state of conscious and permanent visibility that assures the automatic functioning of power” (Foucault, 288). Foucault views that Bentham’s panopticon is a physical representation of a power dynamic that he sees in play in culture - the one in which he so aptly named panopticism. For this essay, we were asked to try and explain the similarities that we see between Foucault’s essay and the other works that we have read this semester. Finally I see the cohesion to the works and the purpose for reading them. All the authors - Berger, Bordo, and Kipnis - discuss power in their works. Each author gives an example of the power dynamic that Foucault describes.
Though the authors give examples of Foucault’s panopticism, they each have their own opinion on how it works. The authors all try to explain their perception on the way we live in the world and the way that we understand it. In a way, these are the basic foundations of everything that we do.
Throughout his essay, Foucault stresses the idea that one acquires power and knowledge through observation and examination. He then elaborates that panopticism symbolizes certain types of power, or agencies. Agency being the capacity of the ability to act upon something or someone. The panopticon embodies the theory that people become disciplined when they are being watched. Once this power dynamic is applied to other things, these things can become more efficient. This type of disciplinary program is spread throughout society and is used in schools,
Cited: Berger, John. Ways of Seeing - Ways of Reading: An Anthology for Writers. Bedford/St.Martin’s, 2011. Print Bordo, Susan. Beauty (Re)discovers the Male Body - Ways of Reading: An Anthology for Writers. Bedford/St.Martin’s, 2011. Print. Foucault, Michel. Panopticism - Ways of Reading: An Anthology for Writers. Bedford/St.Martin’s, 2011. Print. Kipnis, Laura. Love’s Labors - Ways of Reading: An Anthology for Writers. Bedford/St.Martin’s, 2011. Print.