Panopticisim Civilizations by their very nature depend upon the acceptance of certain principals. In general terms, the people govern themselves according to laws. Laws are, of course, made by the government to designate for the for the whole of society. However, there is little fact that people don’t, as a whole, do things for the greater good of society: merely for their own personal gain. Knowledge and power go hand in hand, but whose hand is it? Regardless from where a person comes from, one is always under constant surveillance by someone in society, which in return affects everyone’s individual actions and reactions. To better define this governing dilemma, Michel Foucault wrote an essay detailing what he went on to describe as the `Panoptic’ concept of governing: that a small number of people can, through appearance of supervision (surveillance) enforce laws most efficiently. Foucault’s Panopticism proves that our ideals we have gained from society do manipulate how we act and behave without realizing it.
Our society’s social factors and the knowledge we possess as a society can control one’s action if one comprehends, how power can control other individual’s actions. Foucault’s Panopticism created a prison that could have One Hundred Percent observation by one overseer in a circular building to gain the knowledge of the prisoners and give the feeling of inferiority and powerlessness. Foucault believed that the major effect of the panopticon is ..to induce in the inmate a state of conscious and permanent visibility that assures the automatic functioning of power.
.in short, that the inmates should be caught up in a power situation of which they are themselves the bearers. (Courseware 120). The subject is never sure when and if they are being observed at all, leaving their ideals to self regulate and unconsciously become their own guardians.This surveillance objectifies the subjects in the cells, categorizes them and creates new social norms resulting fear of being caught acting out of line.
Foucault used the plague as a good example of how in everyday life the Panopticon’s principles of power come into effect if the norms of society were taken away and one power monitored your every action(Courseware 122). He believed that the Panopticon and the plague were two of the same and yet different. One was an evil natural disaster while the other broke people down artificially for the sole purpose to gain power. Nevertheless, both resulted in a knowledge that controlled.Society and subjects that conformed to the government’s new power almost instantly. The Panopticon was not only used as a form of punishment but also served as a laboratory; it could be used to carry out experiments, to alter behavior, to train or correct individuals (Courseware 121).
The Panopticon could test procedures, and change the behavior of the inmates because it had no social factors to affect the deviant behaviors in the people held within. It tried out the most effective forms of punishment and reward while teaching different techniques in order to distinguish which one was the best. The Panopticon made perfecting the exercise of power possible. Foucault states that Panopticon presents a cruel, ingenious cage (Courseware 122), meaning that although the setting may seem inhuman, it is a work of intelligence at the time and for years to come.Nevertheless, Foucault recognized that the panoptic mechanism is not simply a hinge, a point of exchange between a mechanism of power and a function; it’s a way of making power relations function, and making a function through these power relations. (Courseware 123).
Many view Foucault’s Panopticism experiment as cruel and unnecessary, nevertheless the inmates in the Panopticon act as subjects of experiments to test more sufficient ways of labor, medicine, and ways of teaching that are helping our future by creating knowledge of a normlessness world and the power that could find how to completely eradicate deviance and deter the social factors that influence these behaviors. In our society today, most people assume that social factors, influence our actions. Foucault believed that each man is a product of his society, and without society, there is no person(Ritzer 38).This means the knowledge that we possess as a society indirectly and without our recognition controls our actions and alters our knowledge. Any person has the possibility to become more delinquent when there is an excess of definitions favorable for the deviant to break the law.
When a person is in complete solitude and constant surveillance in the Panopticon, there is no chance to learn deviant behavior and constant surveillance that would deter criminal acts because of the higher risks of being caught. Today, for example, when adolescents are in high school they are less likely to skip class when they know that the reprimand will be unfair and have a higher risk of being punished when caught. There were always teachers lurking around corners, checking out restrooms for vandalism and smoking, and peeking into classrooms to make sure that the students are all behaving appropriately and the majority of the students will conform to the norms so they will not get into trouble.Foucault said in his writings that, power has its principle not so much in a person as in a certain concerted distribution of bodies, surfaces, lights, gazes; in an arrangement whose internal mechanisms produce the relation in which individuals are caught up.
(Ritzer 57) In other words, Foucault is saying that power is more internal, where people are interested and attracted to the other factors that cause power. It is not the person who is special and selected to have the power, instead it is the factors in society that affect the other subjects to believing this person has the power. Why should we have the knowledge and power in the first place to deter criminal acts, though? Is the reason that the government forces laws and punishments on us because they are afraid that knowledgeable citizens are a threat to their control of society? If it is the knowledge we possess as a society that controls our individual actions, then it is understandable why the government would want to have its citizens conform to all of its demands. If no one is afraid of the punishment fitting the crime then would we all commit crimes and generally destroy society? Or would we have morals that result from the social factors created by our society and the government deter us from committing the crimes and make us conform to the social norms? When you think about it, we are all inmates of some sort in the real world. Our government today is the next Panopticon through the census, taxes, the Internet, and hidden cameras because it can monitor all of our actions without our knowledge and power. So, is being watched a good thing? Or is it a violation of our rights? Or are our rights what are violating us? Censorship in any type of media such as television, newspapers, and the Internet, is a restriction of our freedom of speech.
That is left for the government to figure out according the their morals and knowledge of power to deter people and make them conform to its standards.In today’s society, thieves are put into prisons, lunatics into asylums, soldiers into barracks, workers into factories and children into schools: each of which is usually seen as having some sort of freedom in its own right – and yet, for Foucault, all share the same conditions of existence, and are part of the same idea. He asks the following question: is it surprising that prisons resemble factories, schools, barracks, hospitals, which all resemble prisons?(Courseware 228). His answer is that the reason for the architectural, organizational and interactional similarities between these institutions is that the internal structures on each that were founded upon are similar in techniques and functioned as sites of dividing practices between the norm and those assessed as being different from the norm and, as such, become the objects of a range of penalties and interventions that were designed to remedy such deficiencies. In pre-capitalist societies, power was seen as being exercised by rulers such as the absolute monarchs, who in turn ruled by fear, and exercised penalties at their own discretion, rather than as laid down by some set of rules and principles. At the same time, this small group of rulers could justify their power and privileges by reference to their royal blood, in this type of society, the more one stood out from `the norm’, the more one’s fame and power grew but Foucault did not mean by power the cultural capability of the ruling classes or castes to impose cultural norms on subject people(Ritzer 46-47), for instance, to convince the working classes of their repression or that certain proscribed behaviors, were abnormal. Foucault did not deny many such examples of exercise of power, but he rejected them as not fundamental, because the amount of power they expressed was insufficient to shape or transform society in the ways he perceived power as doing.
Power had to be positive as well as negative. Power had to create new forms of behavior, new modes of self understanding, and new codes of meaning, as well as restrain those behaviors opposed to the ruling class.It seems as if there is an exception to every rule that the government has, and yet, the government is the only one that can get away with finding and breaking the exceptions to every rule because of the knowledge and power it possesses.
Do we really need to know this much about humans because soon we will have dissected ourselves so much to a point where nothing else is left to learn? Panoptic societies are very orderly, efficient, economically sustainable, but in exchange, also inhumanly cruel and oppressive. However, Foucault does not advocate this quasi-utopian world, his fact-spewing is instead to make the reader connect the modern prisons, factories, schools, barracks, and hospitals; not to the physical Panopticon, but instead our society to Panopticism. Sociology Essays.