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Discipline In Society Essay Research Paper Discipline

Discipline In Society Essay, Research Paper Discipline is an action, or idea that has been around for hundreds of years. We are all familiar with it, as we experience some form of it every day. As Foucault

Discipline In Society Essay, Research Paper

Discipline is an action, or idea that has been around for hundreds of years.

We are all familiar with it, as we experience some form of it every day. As Foucault

describes, before the age of enlightenment, the ways of punishing deviants was pure

physical torture. During this time, the person who had the ability to inflict physical pain on

an individual had power over that person. As in most cases, the tormentors were part of

the King’s staff, or a normal citizen outraged by the act the criminal committed against his

beloved King. Lucky for us, the age of enlightenment came along. People no longer

blamed natural disasters such as a tornado or a flood on God, they were learning that

things happened because of natural causes, and more importantly, could be logically

explained.

With this type of logical thinking, along came liberty and the rule of law

with a democratic government. Laws were established and society became more

structured into classes; upper, middle, and lower. With people divided into classes, power

was easily distributed to the people with most knowledge, who coincidentally were mostly

upper class. They moved away from sovereign power, where the King was the authority

figure, as well as the visible agent of power. When he ruled, the people knew who ruled

them and in what ways he did so. By adapting a disciplinary power structure, the power

figures were able to control all aspects of a person’s life. They had the ability to mask the

power, yet not the figure in power. This was greatly to the governments advantage, due to

the fact that it made it much harder to overthrow the government, because no one really

knew who was in charge. So the power was distributed to many people, not just one as

with the King. The government had a hard time watching every citizen all the time, so the

idea of conformity was brought in. This worked so well because citizens would “govern”

each other into acting normal, or in other words, the way the people in power wanted

them to act. People became afraid to act in a way that might make people think that they

were odd, so they gladly acted like everyone else and didn’t cause any trouble. In such a

process, the one in power usually isn’t a conscious factor in an individual’s process of self

normalization, due to the fact that they make themselves invisible and instill their norms in

subtle ways.

This is a prime example of panopticism, a theory developed by Jeremy

Bentham. In panopticism, the people govern, or normalize themselves, because they never

know if the people in power are watching them. It turns the society into an orderly,

mechanized, productive group. It is much easier to “do the right thing”, rather than risk

the chance of getting punished by government. The government scare the people so that

they don’t misbehave. But you never really know if they are watching you or not, so you

assume that they are for the majority of the time. This makes the people in power invisible

to the common citizen. They don’t know exactly who is governing them, but they know

they are there. This concept worked very well, as it is still happening today. We don’t

need the government to teach us how to act because we do it ourselves, and to each other.

We are always very willing to point out a person who acts or looks different from us. In

homes across America, children are being taught how to act and fit in with the rest of

society. Everytime a child is born they are put through the process, and they then grow up

with the same general ideas that their parents had.

The best example of disciplinary power in work are in the incidents that

occurred at Waco, Texas. In this specific engagement, the government really did a good

job of pulling the wool over the eyes of America. A group of people who believed in a

rare from of religion, were put under torture much like some described by Foucault. The

bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms went in hoping for a nice easy clip of

themselves being heroes, yet turned the whole unnecessary ordeal into a killing field. They

then tried to cover it up, and were extremely unsuccessful once again. In the end, a large

group of people, including many children, had died for no good reason at all, save all the

great publicity the ATF received. The reason that this incident caused no problems for the

ATF was because the media was denied coverage of the standoff. The public heard only

what the federal government wanted them to hear, and of course they weren’t going to let

the people of America know how badly they had screwed up. So, they portrayed David

Koresh as a mad man and leader of a strange, suicidal cult, and we bought it. And why

not? People love to hear about crazy whackos because it makes them feel a little more

sane, and of course, a little more normal.

When certain agencies of the government decided to investigate the

incident at Waco, they uncovered the truth. So it turns out, none of these branch dividians

were really crazy, or even a cult, and there were no illegal activities taking place at their

compound, save a few illegal firearms. (Give me a break, they were in Texas!!) They

found no reason that could justify why these people had died so unjustly, because there

wasn’t one. So a hearing began, and they tried to find out how this had happened, and just

who was responsible for this mess. But guess what? Everytime they had someone pinned,

they pointed a finger at someone else. They could not find exactly who was responsible. In

the end, the government boldly lies to people who knew better. They get away with it

because they know that no one will fight for the people at Waco, and if they did, where in

the hell would they start?

So in this, we view panopticism in its full glory. We know that people were

“governed”, they carried their charred bodies out of the building after it had burned to the

ground. But whose exactly is to blame for this? We won’t ever know because this

panopticism is at work under a government run by disciplinary power, which is

everywhere around us, yet at the same time, is nowhere.

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