Panopticism Essay, Research Paper
In “Panopticism” Michel Foucault describes the “practices of investigation” which in turn gave rise to a society that was under constant surveillance. Soon the society became a “disciplinary” society. Michel Foucault explains the study and effect of “Panopticism” which gave rise to many social sciences, which included sciences of man, or human behavior. It is evident that the effect of “Panopticism” had a great psychological effect on the disciplined society. Why would a society that encouraged discipline and surveillance also promote the growth of a psychological effect on their society?
Psychology is the science that deals with the mental processes and behavior of an individual. Psychology determines the emotional and behavioral characteristics of an individual, group, or activity. A psychological effect can also be described as an action or argument that is used to manipulate ones mind , and to cause an individual to “be on their toes” at all times. The use of surveillance from the middle ages to the present has not changed much. Of course the tools used to create a disciplined society has changed greatly, but the effect remains the same. Michel Foucault explains in “Panopticism” the “practices of investigation” at the end of the Middle Ages gave rise to scientific inquiry. Undoubtedly scientific inquiry was responsible for Galileo to verify that our planet revolves around the sun. Michel Foucault also explains “our society is one not of spectacle but of surveillance”. He merely is saying that the society is not on display for entertainment purposes but the actions of the society are on display to encourage discipline and to promote a psychological barrier that may reduce the negativity in the society.
In today’s society we use the approach of surveillance more than ever before. Where ever you go you see a camera or some type of surveillance security mechanism. On the streets, there are “red light” cameras in the stores there are security cameras even in the dressing rooms there are anti-theft cameras, all help to conform our present society into a “disciplined” society. Much like Michel Foucault’s description of the “Panopticon”, the same psychological effect is taken on our present society. The psychological effect is what the government and other leaders want. Once a citizen of a particular group or society is manipulated into believing that they are being watched, nine times out of ten the citizen will not act in a negative manner. That is not always true, because in today’s society even with the surveillance, crimes are committed. The surveillance equipment makes it easier to apprehend citizens who do not follow the rules of a “disciplined” society.
Furthermore, the act of surveillance is not always in the best interest of the common citizen. When citizens allow surveillance to become a part of their everyday lives and it is part of everything they do, yes it is used as protection for the common citizen, but this also allows different levels of government to be part of citizens personal lives. When viewing this situation it seems as if it is a no win situation. The answer to the problem is quite simple, there has to be a cut off point. If surveillance continues to grow and become more technical it is very possible that amendment rights will soon be violated.
Surveillance can be a useful tool in many ways. When analyzed in the “Panopticon” approach , surveillance was a very controlling aspect of society. Even in today’s society the practice of surveillance still has a psychological effect on the citizens which transforms into self control. The purpose of the “Panopticon” and the act of surveillance is to generate a sense of self-control in society .
Finally the science that did not exist in earlier times, now plays a huge role in today?s society. Our present day society now understands, to get to the root of discipline, you have to understand human behavior and the human mind. Psychology?s role in today?s society is more important than ever before, because it is the source of all information. The study of human behavior and human psychology, explains why or why not someone is disciplined. Psychology also gives us answers, as to how to make our effort to discipline a society or a group of people, even more effective. Thus providing a back-bone to support and help understand human behavior and the human mind, which in turn helps create standards that runs our society.