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Seminar Three - Panopticism

Panopticism Re-cap

- Institutional Power over Society.

- Social Control > Productivity

- Self Control

- Training


- Hospitals
- Schools
- Army
- Police
- Prisons
- Churches
- Government
- Marriage
- Big Businesses
- Family
- Media

Each institution has a series of Institutional Experts. In a paternalistic way, explain what is the best form of behaviour. It's depersonalised and transposed onto the idea of a wider Institution.


- A proposal for a building by Jeremy Bentham (1791) - It works perfectly for any use one will put it to. The building was a philosophical experiment for the perfect funtionality. Not sadistic.

- Foucault (1977) 'Discipline & Punish' - Book referes to the Panopticon.

- It's a space of visibilty. Everything is on display.

- It's a space where the source of power (people watching) is unverifiable.

- Individuality and Isolation. Stops the danger of conspiring and the physiological effect makes you play tricks on yourself and more willing to accept the circumstances as normal.

- Physiological effect is not forcing you to do anything which inflicts self control.

- Foucault "lateral invisibility and a axial visibility" This just means that everything can be seen from the centre and the centre can be seen in a peculiar way. From side to side nothing can be seen.

- Creates anxiety

- Self-monitoring, Self-correcting.

- Light

- Constant Surveillance


- 'ism' is a style fo something applied to a wider society.

- The same principles of the panopticon but applied to wider society as a whole.

- Modern disciplinary society.

- Making people put themselves to work.

- Docile bodies - Least resistant, most diciplined. Not the lazy - the hardest working and most active. Soldiers is a perfect example.

Panopticism in Religion

- The idea of God is the ultimate panopticon. He can see you but you can't see him.

- As an institution. Religion functions to people to conform to a code of behaviour. To keep society cohesive and make people productive.

Panopticism in Marriage

 - Primitive Communist Societies (to exist they go hunting). Their responsibilities for social codes an conventions was females. Everybody had sex with everyone.

- The idea starts to arise that men want to control it because they've made it. They want their tools to go to their spawn but they didn't know which kids was theirs, only the woman do. Which is where the idea of Marriage comes from. Men want to have a woman to themselves.

- In a household marriage, Religion has the general panoptic control. On a smaller scale, it could be the head of the house.

Panopticism in the Media

- Tabloid Newspapers effectively fabricate stories. Scandals. To manipulate public interest to ultimately sell more papers. Because it's in a newspaper, we think they are the institutional experts which make it believable.


- When we are trapped in an institution, it's almost impossible to see past their motives and control. We generally accept that certain people know best.

- "They don't like the medicine, but they know it's good for them." The Dean of LCA.

- POWER is a complex relationship between two people. The lecturer giving the medicine has the power and the recipient (us) of the medicine is knowingly unquestionably accepting.


Choose an Institution or modern day example and refer this to the points raised in the Panopticism piece of text written by Michael Foucault.

- Write 400 words and use 5 quotes
- Weave the quotes into own writing
- Use Froucoudian Language
- Find Good Quotes

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