Student Essay

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The Watchers Are Watching From the beginning of life to its end, people pass through certain representations of authority. Most people drift through life in apathetical lethargy unconsciously being molded into society. Those people live their everyday life, wishing for power, but select few try to understand it of power, manipulate it and use it. For those who dare to do these things, Michel Foucault has laid out the blueprints. Power, which is based on surveillance, draws the individual to believe that the world he lives in is one that is continually watching over him. In an essay entitled Panopticism, Foucault writes about many revolutionary ideas about power. He relates power to Bentham’s panopticon, a penal structure in which prisoner’s cells are constructed in a circular pattern around a central guard tower. This makes the prisoners afraid of constantly being watched, as they cannot see who is inside the tower. The person inside the machinery has ability to see entire periphery, so every prisoner is watched constantly. The observer is not visible to surroundings, which is one of the attributes of God. The idea of the panopticon has mammoth implications of principles of power. Up until this point, dungeon-like prisons in Europe were completely inefficient because prisoners were hided in tinny cells without light. Foucault marked that this panopticon took the prison world out of the dark ages, and made it into “marvelous machine which, whatever use one may wish to put it to, produces homogeneous effects of power’’(216). Indeed, the more uniform and efficient power is, the greater chance it has of governing and reforming the individual. That is why the prisoners do not like to be observed because they are afraid of what may happen next if they do not behave a certain way. The penal system is not the only one which is infected by panopticism. In the

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