Foucault’s Panopticism and Its Application Within Modern Education Systems

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Panopticism, a social theory based on Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon and developed by Michel Foucault describes a disciplinary mechanism used in various aspects of society. Foucault’s Discipline and Punish discusses the development of discipline in Western society, looks in particularly at Bentham’s Panopticon and how it is a working example of how the theory is employed effectively. Foucault explains, in Discipline and Punish that ‘this book is intended as a correlative history of the modern soul and of a new power to judge’ (Foucault, 1977) and opens with accounts of public execution and torture revealing how law and order is created because of the shift from these to prison rules and discipline. Foucault describes the quarantining and…show more content…
In this way, ‘the surveillance is permanent in its effects, even if it is discontinuous in its action’ (Foucault, 1977, p201) meaning that the individual is internalised with a conscious state that he is always being watched, and so no guards are needed as self regulation is achieved, this was best described by Foucault when he defined ‘the major effect of the Panopticon; to induce in the inmate a state of conscious and permanent visibility that assures the automatic functioning of power’ (Foucault, 1975). Supporting one of the key panoptic principles that ‘visibility is a trap’ (Foucault, 1977, p200). Foucault goes on to explain that ‘its strength is that it never intervenes’ (Foucault, 1977, p206), as ‘it constitutes a mechanism whose effects follow from one another’, (Foucault, 1977, p206), there is the possibility that one could intervene at any given moment, but this is never necessary due to internalisation of a state of awareness. The inhabitants of the cells become ‘Docile Bodies’ (Foucault, 1977, p135), something which he describes in full; explaining that it is achieved through mental, rather than physical discipline, the type of discipline which is created within the Panopticon, but could be seen earlier, as Foucault describes, in the training of soldiers, or monks. These ‘Docile

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