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Modern variations of the Panopticon - Essay Example

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Modern Versions of the Panopticon Table of Contents On Foucault's Panopticon as a Disciplinary Power Mechanism 3 Works Cited 9 On Foucault's Panopticon as a Disciplinary Power Mechanism The thesis of this paper is that the panopticon can be a reciprocal process with some interesting dynamics, where two parties in a pair can play the role of both the observer and the observed for each other…
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Modern variations of the Panopticon
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Download file to see previous pages Bentham’s idea is that a panopticon, where the observed internalizes the presence of an unseen observer, enforces those rules via a psychological self-policing on the part of the observed. The panopticon prison, where prisoners are always within view of an observer hidden in a tower that sees all, is a very good representation of Bentham’s ideal panopticon. It is an examination of the ideas on the panopticon as it is applied in some paired relationships, exploring how checks and balances come into play in them, so that the two sides in effect are forced to play according to the rules. In effect, in this dyad relationship, the panopticon becomes a two-way mechanism, with implications that are particular to the parties in the pairing. This paper demonstrates this via a discussion of the Internet as a reciprocal modern panopticon. The internet fosters an arena where the observed follows the rules imposed on them by the law and by the authorities, and where the authorities, in their turn as ordinary users, are likewise compelled to follow the rules, and to make sure that the rules do not go too far in infringing on their personal rights under the law (Foucault 228). This first part of the essay talks about the writer's understanding of Foucault's Panopticon as a disciplinary power mechanism. The heart of the panopticon is the internalization of a power mechanism on the part of the observed, in a system designed in such a way that the observed knows that he is perennially being watched, and where the observer is forever hidden from view from the observed. This can be a paired process with both parties being observer and observed for each other. That is, the panopticon also a situation where two sides play mutual roles at the same time. In this sense it is reciprocal system that enforces the rules of the game via its very mechanism. The means of enforcement is the observed internalizing the rules, and acting in such a way as to enforce the rules, and to make the system self-perpetuating and stable. In a two-way system both have to play the role of the observed, and both internalize the rules (Foucault 228). In other words, the panopticon as a disciplinary power mechanism instills in the both parties the very rules of the game, and makes it in the best interest of both, in a way, to follow the rules without being told. What affects one affects the other in equal measure. The mechanism has within it the power to enforce. The knowledge that one is being watched at all times forces the observed to act in ways that do not violate the rules, or else face the consequences of the violation. It is self-perpetuating and becomes more effective the more it is internalized too. This is because both parties, as the observed, by internalizing the rules and the idea that he is being perpetually watched, go into themselves and look into all areas of their lives: thoughts, behavior - and seek compliance with the rules in all of those dimensions of his life. Both censor each other and are forced to follow the law as the observed, and as the observers enforcing the law (Foucault 226-228). In pairs where observation is reciprocal, the two parties balance each other's ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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