Private Eye

Panopticism, a concept introduced by philosopher Foucault, clarifies how the idea of being watched, forces individuals to conform to proper and acceptable behavior.  The panopticon establishes constant surveillance of inmates without their knowledge of being watched. The inmates don’t know if they are being watched which creates uncertainty of whether or not they are being watched. Panopticism has been ingrained in our society through the widespread deployment of cameras in buildings and traffic surveillance that serve as ubiquitous watchers. The installation of cameras serves the purpose in spaces to monitor the behavior of people and enhancing safety in buildings, streets, and public spaces. These cameras contribute to this creation of a panoptic environment discussed by Foucault, where people feel the gaze of authority which results in people conforming to acceptable behaviors enforced by the law and society. The thought of being watched creates paranoia that influences how someone upholds themselves and instills accountability in individuals. Similarly, speed cameras and red-light cameras are placed on the roads to enforce the law as well as establish the safety of drivers on the road. The consequences associated with running a light or speeding, cause some people to be cautious and encourage drivers to obey traffic laws to avoid fines and penalties. The fear of being caught engaging in wrongful actions compels right and just behavior, even without the presence of police officers or state troopers. The observance of being monitored by cameras, makes people adhere to the laws of the road. This aligns with the idea that internalize the “panoptic gaze” to align their behavior with societal norms. The concept of panopticism emphasizes the impact of surveillance on social dynamics and human behavior. The perception of being monitored, forces conformity manifesting the relevance of Foucault’s comprehension of society in which digital and physical surveillance shapes collective norms and social structures.

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