Michel Foucault. Panopticism - Essay Example

Comments (0) Cite this document
Challenging and provocative, Foucault’s Panopticism, nonetheless, provides a realistic account of a sophisticated surveillance system, designed to stop the plague epidemic in the…
Download full paperFile format: .doc, available for editing
GRAB THE BEST PAPER91.4% of users find it useful
Michel Foucault. Panopticism
Read TextPreview

Extract of sample "Michel Foucault. Panopticism"

15 October Foucault’s Panopticism Panopticism is one of the most interesting and controversial works in the history of philosophy. Challenging and provocative, Foucault’s Panopticism, nonetheless, provides a realistic account of a sophisticated surveillance system, designed to stop the plague epidemic in the seventeenth century. Bentham’s Panopticon is used as the foundational element of Foucault’s vision: designed as an annular building with the tower at its centre, the Panopticon is pierced with wide windows and divided into large cells (Foucault). The latter extend the width of Panopticon and have two windows, to ensure continuous visibility of actors (Foucault). This visibility is actually a trap: prisoners can see each other but cannot communicate. “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).
Paradoxical at first glance, Foucault’s writing parallels contemporary realities and conflicts. Panopticon exemplifies a unique analogy of present day surveillance relations and principles (Simon 2). Panopticon also closely resembles and redefines the essence of modern communications, particularly, the Internet (Winokur 1). Winokur suggests that, through the prism of Foucault’s writings, the Internet makes users question the mere essence of electronic communications and relations (1). Why the Panopticon-Internet relationship? The answer is simple: both operate as complex poststructuralist models of human relations with permanent and conscious visibility as the main prerequisites for the successful use of power (Winokur 1). The Internet is more panoptic than cinema or television. It is a bi-directional space, in which people observe other people through the computer monitor. Contrary to most beliefs, the Internet is not an instrument of socialization and empowerment but merely a tool of remote control (Winokur 5).
This is where Foucault’s Panopticon turns into a symbol of present day surveillance relations. However, Foucault’s writing is much more complicated than it seems; and so is the world described by the philosopher in his famous work. The writing deserves much attention and analysis to understand its real meaning and writer’s idea. The Panopticon is not merely an instrument and medium of power, its meaning is really more important. It is the symbol of social resistance and control (Simon 3). It is a representation of a socio-material epistemology (Simon 3). Panopticon shapes a unique but extremely practical template for the development of various institutional orders (Simon 3). It is an ideal system of power relations which, nonetheless, is neither stable nor static. Panopticon also does not work alone; the second important component of panopticism is horror (Foucault). In light of the rapid acceleration of technologies, billions of people feel like Foucault’s inmates, who never know whether they are being watched but have a constant fear of visibility and exposure to the global panoptic machine.
Works Cited
Foucault, Michel. “Part Three: Discipline 3. Panopticism.” Cartome, 16 June 2001. Web. 15
October 2011.
Simon, Bart. “The Return of Panopticism: Supervision, Subjection and the New
Surveillance.” Surveillance & Society, 3.1 (2005): 1-20. Print.
Winokur, Mark. “The Ambiguous Panopticon: Foucault and the Codes of Cyberspace.”, 13 March 2003. Web. 15 October 2011. Read More
Cite this document
  • APA
  • MLA
(“Michel Foucault. Panopticism Essay Example | Topics and Well Written Essays - 500 words”, n.d.)
Michel Foucault. Panopticism Essay Example | Topics and Well Written Essays - 500 words. Retrieved from
(Michel Foucault. Panopticism Essay Example | Topics and Well Written Essays - 500 Words)
Michel Foucault. Panopticism Essay Example | Topics and Well Written Essays - 500 Words.
“Michel Foucault. Panopticism Essay Example | Topics and Well Written Essays - 500 Words”, n.d.
  • Cited: 0 times
Comments (0)
Click to create a comment or rate a document

CHECK THESE SAMPLES OF Michel Foucault. Panopticism

Discipline and Punish by Michel Foucault

...?Discipline and Punish Order No. 506322 Introduction ‘Discipline and Punish’ by Michael Foucault is a Philosophical representation of how the body has transformed from being a vehicle of punishment to the punishment of the soul. The central theme around which Foucault’s arguments revolve is the centrality of Power- Knowledge and how it is represented in today’s contemporary society. In enlightening his audiences on the shift in paradigms involving the punishment of the body to the punishment of the soul, Foucault makes use of various disciplines to justify his discourse. The primary aim of Foucault’s is to help us understand these disciplines and how they relate to our...
6 Pages(1500 words)Essay

Michel Foucault

... Analysis of Michel Foucault’s Life and Works Michel Foucault (Paul-Michel Foucault) is a French philosopher as well as a historian who was born October 15, 1926 and died June 25, 1984 in Poitiers, France and Paris, France (“Foucault”). He initially began focusing his studies on psychology and psychopathology. In fact, his findings turned into a book he wrote Mental Illness and Psychology (“Foucault”). But Foucault decided to return to philosophy, or the history of ideas, as the focal point of his career. What did his work do? It linked philosophy with history by “encompassing such diverse topics as changing attitudes to insanity in post-Renaissance European society, the development of the prison system within the same society... ...
4 Pages(1000 words)Research Paper


...Panopticism Power and discipline has really been depicted in “Panopticism”. Measures taken to control the plague have been categorically displayed in the book. Quarantine and separation were some of the control used during that particular time and Foucault describes “Panopticon’ as a tower with that had vision to almost every cell that was meant for all prisoners. Panopticon made discipline more economical and efficient compared to other forms of discipline and further represented power and control due to minimal human operations associated with it. No prisoner would realize that they were being watched from the tower (Foucault 195-200). The panopticon could be operated...
4 Pages(1000 words)Essay

Michel Foucault

... How has Michel Foucault's work on the history of ivity, governmentality and space been highly influential in shaping the geographers' understanding of the relationship between the individual and the modern city / identity i.e. the avant garde/ as in geographical discourses. Introduction: Foucault's work on subjectivity, governmentality and space has been highly influential in shaping an understanding of the relationship between issues of space and identity. Foucault developed the theory of disciplinary power in which he describes the unique relationship between the process of madness and the process of being imprisoned. The role of prisons has been highlighted by Foucault as being instrumental in the construction of identity... control....
8 Pages(2000 words)Essay

Panopticism by Foucault

...11 October 2007 Essay Paper In Panopticism, Foucault porpoises a unique approach and vision of the prison system and the institution of criminal justice comparing the structure and organization of prisons with schools, hospitals, and working places. At the end of the chapter he questions: "Is it surprising that prisons resemble factories, schools, barracks, hospitals, which all resemble prisons" (Foucault 1995). It is possible to say that it is not surprising because the process of organizing and bureaucracy in modern institutions can be described as the design, development and maintenance of a system of coordinated activities in which individuals and groups of people work cooperatively...
5 Pages(1250 words)Essay


...influences decision-making. In 1960's he uses terms like 'contestation' and 'transgression' and uses them interchangeably. In 1970's Foucault moved to 'struggle' and 'resistance' which are again synonymous. And finally in 1980's he used the term 'agonism'. All these terms used through a period of time defining his core focus on the play of resistance, and Foucault's conceptualization of power rather than strict references made to limits. (AMOUDI) Foucault's power-resistance relation is a dynamic analysis of the modern day world. The groundwork of the role of power being laid in the previous theories which evolved between 1960's and 1970's, the economics of power has been more...
4 Pages(1000 words)Essay

Michel Foucault Panopticism

...Michel Foucault " Panopticism " One of the major characteristics of the specific work of Foucault is the continuous reference to surveillance as a main element of the social and political life. In fact, surveillance has been considered to exist in all sectors of life including schools and hospitals. In accordance with Foucault this sense of surveillance can begin by the town (as a representation of the society) in which ‘the existence of each street is placed under the authority of a syndic, who keeps it under surveillance’ (Foucault, 1995). This surveillance exists because the local authorities have chosen to control citizens through the...
5 Pages(1250 words)Essay

Panopticism review

...Panopticism Review The understanding of Foucault’s panopticism requires a review of the analogies on which it is based. Foucault’s idea was anchored on the need for societies to develop sound and effective mechanisms that could be used to discharge power more economically and more effectively. The central objective of panopticism is to achieve the highest levels of discipline and public morality within the society. The idea of panopticism was modeled from the image or structure of the panopticon as described by Jeremy Bentham (Veyne 51). Bentham’s perspective revolved around the creation of a central tower that could be used to monitor...
2 Pages(500 words)Essay

The Work of Michel Foucault in Contemporary Criminology

...HOW THE WORK OF MICHEL FOUCAULT IS RELEVANT TO CONTEMPORARY CRIMINOLOGY Introduction The field of criminology is concerned with methodically studying the causes and motives of crimes. Contemporary criminology involves examining different substantive elements that result to criminal behavior. It also involves factors in our society that encourage the persistence of criminal behavior (Joyce 2006: 27). In order to develop social and political policies and program treatments meant for handling those involved with criminal activities and for those affected the use of theories is very crucial. The work of French poststructuralist Michel Foucault, who was a tutor of History of...
16 Pages(4000 words)Research Paper

Michel Foucault: Truth, Knowledge, and Power

... Michael Foucault knowledge, truth, and power Part I Foucault argued that power is productive meaning that the ability of discourse and language to produce individuals with different characteristics and social identities. For instance a modern prisoner with a marginalized identity and that can be discovered using the normalization and disciplinary techniques of power. He goes further to argue that punishing people who commit crimes is a way of exerting revenge on behalf of the society. However, the role of most of the prisons today is more of rehabilitation rather than revenge and punishment. In the context of modern politics, productive power can be understood to mean life and death, civilian and combatant, western and rogue... ,...
3 Pages(750 words)Assignment
sponsored ads
We use cookies to create the best experience for you. Keep on browsing if you are OK with that, or find out how to manage cookies.

Let us find you another Essay on topic Michel Foucault. Panopticism for FREE!

Contact Us