Essays On Panopticism Foucault

However, it is in the works of French philosopher Michel Foucault on penal institutionsthat the idea of punishment as part of a discourse of power is made explicit.

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The shifting of torture and execution from the public to the private realm (resulting in more economical disciplinary techniques) subtly demonstrates how mechanisms of discipline evolve and take other forms.In discussing productivity, it can be understood to refer to the capacity of institutions to produce individuals of a specific type, utilizing punishments as mechanisms. In their book, (1984), Cousins and Hussains write “that imprisonment is also enveloped in a mechanism of power” (p. Foucault sees discipline, therefore, as combinative: it functions to combine elements, in this case, individuals, into a uniform mass not through the individual variables found in each element, but through the characteristics imposed upon it because of the space it occupies. Draw a Venn diagram or chart to show this comparison. What were the primary purposes of Bentham’s Panopticon?(pages 213-217) What features would make a perfect Panopticon? Starting on page 218, Foucault compares the Panopticon to a “laboratory.” At this point in the essay, he has presented schools, factories, hospitals and prisons as examples of Panoptic institutions. How does this experimentation increase the subjectivity of the average person? What is the connection between the “plague-stricken town” and the “panoptic establishment”? On page 225, Foucault writes, “One also sees the spread of disciplinary procedures, not in the form of enclosed institutions, but as centers of observation disseminated throughout society.” In your own society, who or what functions as “centers of observation”?Hence, the space defines the capabilities of each individual, which in turn contribute to the collective function of the mass. As it were, the individual is trained through its designation or position, the series that is relevant to his codified space, and through the issuance of a systematic order or command from the authority (Foucault, 1977, p.166). Again, this depends on what type of individual an institution intends to fashion. Docile body simply refers to the type of individual that is trained and disciplined in the context of a power relation in an institution. At the outset, he shows how torture and execution was made a public spectacle; with the condemned man being paraded in a manner deemed suited to the crime he committed.Interestingly however, public tortures and executions soon became a ‘hidden’ affair, with the condemned man being transferred secretly from one place to another in a manner as inconspicuous as possible, using plain carriages with no particular distinguishing mark indicating that the cargo was a convicted felon.


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