Michel Foucault: The Power Of Panopticon

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Michel Foucault (1926-84) was a great French philosopher, thinker, theorist and a literary critic in the second half of the twentieth century. His theories are largely concerned with the relationship between power and knowledge. He was born in Poitiers in France where his father was a prominent surgeon. Foucault was well versed in French, Latin and Greek. He focussed much on the study of Philosophy and studied deeply Kant, Marx, Hegel, Nietzsche and most importantly, Heidegger and Althusser. He got his Doctorate degree on the History of Madness under the supervision of renowned philosopher George Cunningham. He had close relationship with distinguished thinkers of France like Badiou and Ranciere. Foucault became academically established when …show more content…
Its power lies in its ability to frighten, and in the knowledge of what it could potentially do. Panopticism is also present in many forms in all of today's communities, adding to its mystique and aura, and giving it power over numerous individuals, groups and communities. In analyzing the power of the Panopticon, the individual remain careful of this psychological power because it is that with which Panopticism instils fear into the members of such a community. Panopticon is powerful in many ways, but one of these is simply the way in which the Panopticon can take many different forms which are constantly around us in society. Many scholars believe that "the Panopticon should be taken not literally but as a metaphor for surveillance of all types, with emphasis on power relationships" (Dobson and Fisher 307). This means that nearly any instance of surveillance (many of them are in operation in different public sectors) can be classified under the broad range of Panopticism. Foucault connects the idea of Panopticism first to a prison, and then to a town which is under quarantine due to a Plague. He connects these two situations by noting the similarities in surveillance, beneath which both are kept. Within the walls of a prison, every move of each prisoner is caught and similarly in a quarantine situation, the government steps in to control every aspect of life in the community, so that the disease does not spread to other communities. Citizens are watched, though as with prisons, but there is that uncertainty as to exactly when someone is watching. It is noteworthy that the Panopticon is generally linked with prisons, but the first one ever built was not in a prison, but in a school for the arts in Saint Petersburg in Russia. Foucault claims that whenever one is dealing with multiple individuals, the Panopticism may

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