The Effects Of Social Media On Society

1750 Words Jun 16th, 2015 7 Pages
In Discipline and Punish, Foucault adopts a genealogical approach to examine the effects of punishment on society. In this paper, we apply Foucauldian analysis to information technology, especially social media on the internet. We will see that social media has both a homogenizing and a polarizing effect — while it often polarizes across social groups, it homogenizes within groups. Social media allows there to be less interaction between people of different groups while allowing norms to be spread and enforced more easily within groups. Foucault’s analysis in Discipline and Punish focused on prisons, and closely regulated systems of observance and power. [1] Social media are unlike this, as participation is voluntary, and being observed — inevitable in the prisons Foucault described — is partly under one’s own control in our case. Foucauldian analysis is still warranted, as the ubiquity and usefulness of social media have created, within many communities, a norm that calls for the use of social media. Rather than the power relations of the prison system, we analyze the power relations arising from social media and the communities that use them. Social networks such as Facebook and Twitter have often been compared to Bentham’s Panopticon, which Foucault referred to in his description of the history of the prison system. (Foucault 195) [2] The Panopticon would allow any prisoner to be observed at any time, without knowledge of whether he was being observed or not. This would…
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