Panopticon

Topics: Prison, Panopticon, Michel Foucault Pages: 4 (1087 words) Published: April 15, 2014

The author of the essay “Panopticism”, Michel Foucault gives his opinion on power and discipline in Panopticism. He describes Jeremy Bentham’s “Panopticon”, a tower in the centre of a room which has vision to every cell, generalized for prisoners. In simple words, it functioned in maintaining discipline throughout the jail. It’s most distinctive feature was that; prisoners could be seen without ever seeing. Prisoners would never really know when they are watched and when not. They are always under the impression that someone is keeping an eye on them continuously and if anything goes wrong, or they make mistake, they would be punished severely. Since, a prisoner would never know when he/she is watched, they have to be at their best. In a sense, if a society had a panopticon, the world would be much more productive when power and discipline is concerned. Panopticon does not limit itself to prison cells, however it can maximize potential in a hospital, school, factory or wherever discipline plays a role. We live in a society where we are constantly observed and it is not difficult to find panoptic systems in our daily lives. For example, in today’s culture staying fit is basically eating right and working out at the gym. Gyms are perfect panoptic institution where you are not forced to go and work out but it is the concern about your image in the eyes of others that forces you to go to the gym and work out. In the gym, mirror and large glass windows surrounds people. They are constantly seen and are aware of being seen by others. It is the fact of being seen which Foucault speaks about when he mentions visibility as being trap. At the gym, you are constantly the subject of someone’s scrutiny. Foucault explains in his that, “it is the fact of being constantly seen, of being always able to be seen that maintains the disciplined individual in his subjection.”(288). Naturally, the people working out at the gym are conscious of being seen and because of that...
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