A Brief Note On Foucault 's Theory Of Power

1328 Words Dec 6th, 2016 6 Pages
For Foucault (1975), a Panopticon is a building with a tower at the center from which it is possible to see each cell in which a prisoner or schoolboy is incarcerated. The tower is positioned in a manner that allows the guard sitting therein to view all of the prisoners within the surrounding cells without obstruction. Visibility is a trap. Each individual is seen by the guard but cannot communicate with them. The panopticon induces a sense of permanent visibility that ensures the functioning of power, an environment where one cannot escape the guard’s watchful eyes. It is all the more insidious as it is a power that is unverifiable. Although the prisoner can see the tower, they can never be certain if the guard is indeed observing them.
The Panopticon allows one to do the work of a naturalist: drawing up tables and taxonomies. It is also a laboratory of power, in which experiments are carried out on prisoners and staff. The plague-stricken town and the panopticon represent transformations of the disciplinary program. The first case is an exceptional situation, where power is mobilized against an extraordinary evil. The second is a generalized model of human functioning, a way of defining power relations in everyday life. The Panopticon is not a dream building, but a diagram of power reduced to its ideal form. It perfects the operations of power by increasing the number of people who can be controlled, and decreasing the number needed to operate it. It gives power over…
Open Document