A Social Theory Created By Michel Foucault Essay

1889 Words Mar 9th, 2016 8 Pages
"Panopticism" is a social theory created by Michel Foucault in his book Discipline and Punish. He defines this term as “the general principle of a new 'political anatomy ' whose object and end are not the relations of sovereignty but the relations of discipline" (Foucault 191). In other words, Foucault believes that institutions like the military, schools, and hospitals are controlled by requiring everyone to obey the rules and by punishing those who do not follow the rules to improve the overall society. Instead of supreme leader ruling over people without placing any structures for people to follow. Michel Foucault illustrates "Panopticism" through a panoptic prison that was created by Jeremy Bentham in the 18th century. It had a large circular building with an observation tower placed in the middle surrounded by a wall of prison cells. The prisoners from the cells could be seen by the officer who was observing from the tower, but the prisoners could not see the officer. Michel Foucault says, "The Panopticon is a marvelous machine which, whatever use one may wish to put it to, produce a homogeneous effect of power." (Foucault 233). An institution like a school or prison in which a Panopticon was used produced the identical results for each individual. People in panoptic institutions are isolated from the outer world and exposed to the observer. The observer can control how individuals behave and disciplines them according to what they want from them. In…

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