Michael Foucaults Panopticism

879 Words4 Pages
Society: Comparison to the Panopticon According to Wikepedia, a panopticon is a type of prison where the observer is able to watch the prisoners without the prisoner knowing when they are being watched. The concept of the design is to allow an observer to observe (-opticon) all (pan-) prisoners thereby conveying what one architect has called the "sentiment of an invisible omnisciece. The panopticon was invented by English philosopher Jeremy Bentham in 1785. Bentham himself described the Panopticon as "a new mode of obtaining power of mind over mind, in a quantity hitherto without example.” Michel Foucault, a French philosopher and historian of ideas uses this term in his book Discipline and Punish the Birth of the Prison as a metaphor…show more content…
When we do something out of the norm, we are then frowned upon at as some type of threat to society. An example of this given is from the book Tess of the Durbyvilles, the character Tess is living in a panopticon because her society is based in a time where she is suppose to have a husband, but her society gossips about her because she has a baby out of wedlock. People looked at her as abnormal because she did not follow the moral structure they are used to. No one bothered to ask any questions they only assumed she was different which is something they did not like. This panopticon serves a good purpose even though it focuses soley on discipline and power. Although we are being watched everyday, if we did not have discipline then our society would not function well, and we would be among murders, thieves, and would fear for our lives. We are among criminals now but because we have institutions to tame them and force them to be a part of society or if they choose not to be then they are kept away from the perfect society we are constantly trying to form and improve. Although we are under power of the panopticon, we are given a sense of protection within our society and therefore we are willing to accept the control we are
Get Access