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Contextual and Theoretical Studies.


Lecture 1. Panopticism – Contemporary Society and Surveillance. The Panopticon

- Metaphor for systems of discipline.

Michael Foucault

- Madness, Deviance – Systems of Correction. - Why prisons etc. were brought into society.

Historically, the village idiot was seen as ʻquirkyʼ – it wasnʼt a negative thing to be. Late 1600ʼs - then believed these people were ʻmadʼ and were no longer a positive member of society, they needed to be hidden away; ʻThe Great Confinementʼ. Houses of Correction -Created for people who werenʼt economically productive i.e. homeless, ʻinsaneʼ, criminal and unemployed. -If they were forced to work, it was thought that their morals would change. -They were hidden away from civilisation; all these people put together – they started corrupting each other – criminals turned on the unemployed, the homeless turned on the insane etc. Physical, public punishment – -Hung, drawn and quartered (Most extreme form) -Pillory -Public hangings. -Discipline was public, physical and humiliating – not only punishing the ʻwrong doerʼ, it was a warning to others that this is what could happen to them. -Banned in late 1800ʼs. -Realised metal discipline and surveillance was more effective. 18th Century – The Birth of the Asylum -They infantised the people. -Instead of forcing them to work, they were rewarded for doing good things and only disciplined when they were doing bad things. -Saw a shift in society – ʻcontrolling the mindʼ -Punishment was ʻmentalʼ, not physical; more successful. -As a means of control, we in turn learnt to discipline ourselves. Foucault

- Discipline was less about scaring people and more about altering the way you act in society.

Jeremy Benthams Design – The Panopticon – 1971. - He suggested the design could be used for prisons, asylums, hospitals and schools. - It wasnʼt so much about the architecture but the ʻmetaphor for systems of discipline.ʼ - Basis of the design - A central tower with periphery wings. - You were permanently visible; always being watched. - Introduced the idea of ʻinstitutional gaze.ʼ - The guards could never be seen as there were venetian blinds in the tower but the prisoner could always be seen. - Evolution of punishment - they were not being hidden away like they used to be in dungeons


Contextual and Theoretical Studies.


Central tower for the guards, surrounding rooms for prisoners etc. The Panopticon internalises in the individual conscious state, that he is Always being watched. -The prisoners cannot talk to each other, or see each other but they never know when theyʼre being watched so they are always monitoring themselves. -Self Regulation -In schools – The pupils would work more and they canʼt cheat. -In Hospitals – Less spread of disease. -In Asylums – Less violence towards each other. ʻA means of surveillance.ʼ – The use of photography. -Allows scrutiny. -Allows supervisor to experiment on subjects. -Aims to make them more productive. Summary – Foucault – -Transformation in western societies, from power and having a ʻrulerʼ to a new mode of power called panopticism. -Panopticism – model of how modern society uses knowledge as its power, it surveys bodies and it ʻtrainsʼ the bodies to self regulate. -They later realised how the literal model of the panopticon and how it completely isolates people and gives them constant paranoia that they are always being watched, would inevitably drive people insane Contemporary examples of Panopticism. -Open plan office – They say it is for ʻteam buildingʼ but the boss can constantly survey his employees. -i.e. TV programme – The Office with Ricky Gervais, he is constantly surveying his workers but he is also always aware of his own actions because of the cameras. - Bars – Bars used to have ʻsnugʼ areas, where you could sit in a group and not be seen – now, open plan layout with a long bar, you are always in view of the bar staff, the bouncers and the manager if they choose to watch. -Google maps street view – You donʼt know when theyʼre taking the pictures to put on google maps, incidents such as man walking out of sex shop has made us all aware of our behaviour just incase. -Lecture theatre – the lecturer can see everyone's faces and how theyʼre acting, but we can only see a select number of people around us. -College filing systems – The tutors can find out almost anything they want about us, but we donʼt know anything about them – Institutional power. 2

Contextual and Theoretical Studies.


-CCTV – Constant surveillance – programmes that poke fun at things that are caught on CCTV, are they just laughing about it or is it a social warning. -TV – We sit, self regulated ʻdocileʼ being fed ideologies. -Facebook – Constant monitoring but you donʼt know when theyʼre looking at you profile or checking up on you. -Big Brother - George Orman novel – Hyper panopticism. -Makes us anxious about how we act – constantly self regulating without realising. A self regulated body is a docile body – - Docile – not lazy, means we are easily trained etc. Foucault and Power – -His definition is not a ʻtop-downʼ model i.e. one thing has power over another, it is about the power of an individual and the relationship you have with that individual. -Power is not a ʻthingʼ or a capacity that people just ʻhaveʼ or are born with, it is a relationship between people. Examples of Panopticism in art: -Bruce Nauman – Video Corridor. -Vito Acconci – ʻFollowing Pieceʼ (1969) and ʻSeedbedʼ. -Chris Burden – ʻSamsonʼ (1985).


Panopticism – Contemporary Society and Surveillance.  

Lecture Notes