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Foucault - Panopticon

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Marc Heinrich

on 29 November 2012

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Transcript of Foucault - Panopticon

Panopticism A presentation by Hendrik Blode, Yannic Hagemann, Marc Heinrich and Florian Wolters Michel Foucault French Philosopher, sociologist and psychologist
Active during the 20th century (* 15th October 1926 / † 25th June 1984)
Theoretical position: analysis of disciplinary mechanisms
Known for exploring manifestation and establishment of knowledge and execution of power and how subjects are institutionalized and disciplined Text Title: Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison
Date: 1991
Kind of publication: Academic book
Approach: analysis and description of panopticism, disciplinary powers and their forms of manifestation in society General Information Panopticism Plague-stricken town, 17th century Provides an example of measures of a city government against a plague in the 17th century

•Hermetic lock down of city, constitutionalization of capital punishments (and murder of all stray animals)
•Separation, isolation, ceaseless documentation and registration of all information of every inhabitant combined with permanent surveillance
•Authoritarian hierarchy: control by intendants, syndics and guards, who are in turn, observed as well
•Measures of exclusion against leper as an alternative approach which merged with the disciplinary mechanisms over the course of time
•Modern examples: penitentiary and psychiatric asylum
•Plague-stricken town exemplifies an utopia of a perfectly governed city Example Panopticon •The Panopticon is an architectural figure invented by Jeremy Bentham to observe and control people
•In the central tower, it is possible to control people without being seen
•People are separated, permanently visible, and can be observed from every angle
•People being objected to observation cannot see each other
•Every action can be recognized immediately
•Inmate is conscious about being unverifiably observed and thus the automatic functioning of power is assured
•System guarantees order and security
•Machine dissociates seeing/being seen dyad Transfer to society •Automates and de-individualizes power and thus makes it possible for every person to exercise power
•Creates a dissymmetry in power relations
•Inmate is not constrained to good behaviour by force (heavy locks, etc.) (Preventative character)
•Inmate inscribes himself in the power relation and becomes the principle of his own subjection
•Aptly to carry out experiments (giving examples) and thus accumulating knowledge (about subject and power)
•Authorities are also bound up with the system because they are integrated in it processes (have to take responsibility for their own actions)
•Panopticisms homogenous functions of power are applicable to all kinds institutions and groups in society

Quote Historical transformation: extension of disciplinary mechanisms •From singular models to general formulas
•Functional inversion: whereas the mechanisms used during the plague are negative, the mechanisms of Panopticisms are productive (making the production of goods, knowledge, etc. more efficient)
•Swarming of disciplinary mechanisms: de-institutionalisation of massive and compact mechanisms to flexible methods of control
•The state control of mechanism of discipline: disciplinary mechanisms spread from privileged and private groups to public mediums (police) which are coextensive with the entire social body
•‘Discipline’ may be identified neither with an institution nor with an apparatus; it is a type of power
•All this led to a formation of a disciplinary society
•Disciplinary power didn't replaced but infiltrated other modalities of power
•Presents the transition of observation form Antique society (spectacle) to modern society (surveillance) "Whenever one is dealing with a multiplicity of individuals on whom a task or a particular form of behaviour must be imposed, the Panoptic schema may be used." - Foucault Three broad historical processes which formed the disciplinary society Three tactics of disciplines:
Lowest possible cost (economically and politically)
Maximum intensity and extension
Increase utility and docility of the elements of the system

Caused by demographic thrust and a growing apparatus of production and their entailing rise in costs
Former systems weren't able to cope with the arising economic problems
Development of the disciplines was necessary
Instead of proceeding by deduction, they worked from within the apparatus (principle of mildness-production-profit)
Thus the accumulation of capital was realised
Likewise the methods for administrating the accumulation of men was its political counterpart
Both progress were co-dependent (growth of men and production apparatus) Economic Juridical-political •New established, formally egalitarian framework was supported by development of disciplines which are essentially non-egalitarian
•Disciplines infiltrated the juridical structure
•Act as a kind of counter law: introduce asymmetries and excluding reciprocities (surplus power on one side)
•Disciplinary link differs from the contractual link and distorts it
•Juristic system: Universal laws –> equality
Discipline: classifies and characterizes
•Not the consciousness about the laws, yet the disciplinary mechanisms are responsible for the acceptance of being punished Hierarchy Scientific •Crossing technological threshold: Mutual reinforcement of power and knowledge (Circular process)
•Concrete: Epistemological thaw and multiplication of effects of power through accumulation of knowledge
•Gave rise to institutions and techniques as psychiatry, child psychology et cetera
•Gained little attention in comparison to other scientific advances
Reason 1: Only grudgingly acknowledged because of unfair power distribution
Reason 2: Discourses were not regarded as having a scientific status
•Can only be compared to inquisitorial methods
Originated in old procedures executed by religious institutions
Later were adopted by the monarchical apparatus
Finally, became investigative forms of western justice in present times
•Fundamental element of today’s empirical natural sciences to accumulate knowledge
•Disciplines are a fundamental element of the sciences of man
•Investigation of natural science has detached from its actual roots, whereas the examination of sciences of man remained very close to the disciplinary powers it originated in
•Disciplinary methods of observation and correction (Disciplinary power) gradually superseded punishments of physical destruction of the individual (Inquisition) Discussion Foucault claims that disciplinary power work without violence. Is that a claim you can support? Imagine you would be in charge in a factory. Would you use disciplinary mechanisms deliberately?
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