Essay on Foucault Panopticism

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Panopticism by Michel Focault
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“Our society is not one of spectacle, but of surveillance; under the surface of images, one invests bodies in depth; behind the great abstraction of exchange, there continues the meticulous concrete training of useful forces; the circuits of communication are the supports of an accumulation and a centralization of knowledge; the play of signs defines the anchorages of power; it is not that the beautiful totality of the individual is amputated, repressed, altered by our social order, it is rather that the individual is carefully fabricated in it, according to a whole technique of forces and bodies. (pp.333-34)”

In the essay, Panopticism, by Michel Focault, he makes the argument
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The persons with the plague (lepers were included in this group) were always observed to account for their presence. 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. Obviously, the fear of not being observed would be strong in this situation, a direct result of the drastic measures taken once someone’s presence could not be observed. 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.

The Panopticon, a prison described by Foucault, “is a machine for dissociating the see/being seen dyad: in the peripheric ring, one is totally seen, without ever seeing” (321, Foucault). 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. Foucault makes this assumption about today’s society by saying that we are always being watched whether we know it or not. One always keeps an eye over their shoulder as a
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