Monday, 12 November 2012

Seminar Three - Panopticism.

Key points from lecture
  • social control
  • self control
  • training to be more productive
  • makes a more useful society
  • institutional power
    • hospitals
    • schools
    • army
    • police
    • prisons
    • churches
    • government
    • marriage
    • big businesses
    • family
    • media
  • behaving in a way that the institutions would expect
  • code of behaviour for each institution, decided by the institutional expert
  • Panopticon
    • design for a building by Jeremy Bentham in 1791
    • works perfectly for whatever use you put it to
    • a building that is 100% efficient
    • could house many different types of institutions
    • space of visibility
    • source of power is unverifiable
    • you can be seen but you can never see
    • isolation from others, can't be influenced or conspire together
    • psychological effect, not being physically forced
    • "lateral invisibility and an axial visibility" everything can see the centre and from the centre everything can be seen, centralisation 
    • self correcting/monitoring
    • anxiety to not fall out of line
    • light
    • constant surveillance
  • Foulcault (1977) 'Discipline and Punish', based on the idea of the Panopticon
  • Panopticism is the qualities of the Panopticon applied to society, a modern disciplinary society
  • moving away from physical means to training people mentally to work in a certain way
  • docile bodies, someone who does what they're told and doesn't question it
  • power is a relationship


The church/religion
  • always being watched by God
  • ten commandments - rules
  • can confess your sins and help to be trained to get on the right track
  • expected to behave a certain way by your partner and society
  • marriage is to have control
  • newspapers fabricate stories
  • manipulate public interest
  • sell more papers, get more money
  • journalists have been placed as institutional experts so society believes what they say

Key quotations from 'Discipline and Punish', Michael Foucault
  • "The following, according to an order published at the end of the seventeenth century, were measures to be taken when the plague appeared in a town." - description of actual events.
  • "omnipresent and omniscient power." - everywhere, all power, all seeing.
  • "A whole literary fiction of the festival grew up around the plague:..." - development of festivals/ carnivals.
  • "...suspended laws, lifted prohibitions, the frenzy of passing time, bodies mingling together without respect, individuals unmasked, abandoning their statuary identity and the figure under which they had been recognised." - a new sexual/frenzied environment, space of collectivity, can create a new identity. Metaphor for a free society.
  • "also a political dream of the plague" - reverse of the festival.
  • "strict divisions; not laws transgressed, but the penetration of regulation into even the smallest details of everyday life." - more regulations, laws and divisions.
  • "the assignment to each individual of his 'true' name, his 'true' place, his true 'body'..." - branding a person with an identity.
  • "medical and political correlative discipline" - the free and disciplined society.
  • "If it is true that the leper gave rise to rituals of exclusion, which to a certain extent provided the model for and general form of the Great Confinement... multiple separations." - Metaphor for the pure community.
  • "The plague stricken town, transversed throughout with hierarchy, surveillance, observation, writing; the town immobilised by the functioning of an extensive power that bears in a distinct way over all individual bodies - this is the utopia of the governed city." - Metaphor for the modern comity, perfect control mechanisms.
  • "in order to see perfect disciplines functioning, rulers dreamt of the state of plague." - imagining social disorder, want disorder to set it right and control, able to create new disciplinary measures.
  • "individualise the excluded, but use the procedures of individualisation to mark exclusion - this is what was operated regularly by the disciplinary power from the beginning of the nineteenth century in the psychiatric asylum, the penitentiary, the reformatory, the approved school and to some extent, the hospital." - how these techniques were applied to institutions.
  • "so many small theatres, in which each actor is alone, perfectly individualised and constantly visible." - put on display individually on a stage e.g Facebook.
  • "Visibility is a trap." - key aspect of Panopticon, constantly visible = constantly detectable, will always be caught out, being in the light is not necessarily being protected.
  • "The crowd, a compact mass, a locus of multiple exchanges, individualities merging together, a collective effect, is abolished and replaced by a collection of separated individualities." - much easier to control, locate, track and discipline.
  • "Unverifiable: the inmate must never know whether he is being looked at at any one moment; but he must be sure that he may always be so." self fulfilling prophecy.

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