Foucault panopticism essay

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Essay on Foucault Panopticism

Let's see if we can help you! As such, the effect that panopticism had in arresting evil and breaking communication could only be felt within the panoptic institutions. More specifically, Foucault observes that such an individual becomes the object and source of information for the observer, yet he or she is not allowed to become a subject in the communication.


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This ensures that the person under observation is disassociated from the collective mass of people, hence becoming a separate individual who is sequestered and observed in solitude. The use of due dates, timetables and exams further construct and advance the discipline aspect in people by ensuring that a person does what is expected of him or her by those in higher positions of power.


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Foucault observes that although power is evident in law and in its raw physical form, it can also be seen in political technologies and norms. In the prison example he uses, Foucault argues that an inmate who believes that someone could be watching him or her at all times alters his or her behaviors accordingly.

With panopticism, the subject of observation takes up desirable behavior, since he believes that he will be examined or judged based on his actions. Being the subject of visibility and not knowing if the observer is watching or not becomes a way of life for people in panoptic settings. Such lifestyles persist even when the surveillance stop, thus reinforcing a disciplinary system.

Foucault’s Panopticism and Its Application Within Modern Education Systems

Once people are convinced that an invisible power is watching them, they willingly alter their behaviors in order to conduct themselves in a manner expected of them. Grades are awarded based on how well a person performs in a given subject area. In some cases, a person is graded depending on how he or she compares to others. This means that grades are set on concrete applications, founded in the education system.

Discipline & Punish - Panopticism

One can argue that the need to earn good grades indirectly ensure that students maintain discipline in their courses. Grades also fit in the panopticism concept based on the argument that they are earned within an educational institution or setup. A student, who fails to attend school or access knowledge from relevant sources, would surely have bad grades when examined.


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As the grades discussed above, tenure is not a physical place. However, the same concrete applications applicable in grades apply to tenure too. To execute the terms of tenure however, one would need an inherent sense of discipline, which according to Foucault could be born from taking on the task of self-supervision.

Moreover, the tenure holder would want to execute everything as directed by his or her employers in order to attain set goals, and to please the panoptic observer. Specifically, Foucault notes that the panoptic schema has a preventative character that assures economy and efficacy in personnel. Like grades and tenure above, evaluations too qualify as a discipline, in addition to being applicable to the panopticism theory. They fit in the disciplines criteria based on the fact that people who would otherwise ignore knowledge strive to concentrate and gain as much of it as they possibly can, based on their awareness that evaluations will be used to test their understanding on a subject.

Failing an evaluation may deny a person better prospects in future, and it is this knowledge that instills discipline in people.

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Panopticism Essay - Words | Bartleby

Evaluations also fit in the panopticism concept because they represent a scientific method through which social engineering can be attained. Aptly put, by evaluating people, appraisers determine who is fit and competent enough for specific positions in the society. Specifically Foucault observes that panopticism has multiplied itself since those who have been molded under its gaze have moved on to mould others.

Prisoners would never really know when they are watched and when not. They are always under. It is imposed on both individuals and societies in general and focuses on the surveillor, either through the single authority figure or via the larger infrastructure of government. The concept of power may always be debatable.

What exactly makes someone or something powerful? The panopticon is a type of institutional building introduced by Jeremy Bentham. Starting with his example of the strict, intensely organized measures that are taken in a typical 17th-century plague-stricken town, Foucault describes how the town employed constant surveillance techniques, centralized a hierarchy of authorities to survey households, partitioned individual structures to impose certain behavior, and record current.

Essay on Foucault Panopticism Words 6 Pages. The persons with the plague lepers were included in this group were always observed to account for their presence.

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These people were supposed to be present at their windows for attendance. Where they not present at the time, they were marked as dead. Their family would be removed, the house would be cleaned out, perfumed, and then, a mere four hours later, people would move back in.

LITERARY THEORY - What is Michel Foucault's PANOPTICON THEORY for NTA net english dec 2018

Though this fear has the opposite motivation of the healthy citizens, who, knowing they are being watched, are afraid to do wrong, it works on the same basic principle. That if one knows they are being watched, it remains a constant consideration in their mind, regardless of the presence of an observer, the fear will always be present. This literally means that in the formation of the panopticon those who are being seen can not see one another and the one who sees everything can never be seen.

That is the most important tool of the panopticon.