Cameras for safety or surveillance?

Michel Foucault’s concept of Panopticism emphasizes how society is structured as a hierarchical system with the power to observe, control, and normalize the behavior of the individuals. Panopticism is a discipline that is empowered by the constant surveillance of the subjects, driving them to behave in a particular manner that is deemed correct. Panopticism influences a range of institutions in our contemporary society, including schools, hospitals, corporations, retail stores, and governmental organizations.
For example, one way that panopticism is embedded in our society is through the use of CCTV cameras. Closed-circuit television cameras are pervasive in public areas, such as streets, malls, and airports. The first CCTV camera was introduced in the UK in 1960, and since then, the usage of CCTV cameras has increased rapidly. CCTV cameras are seen as an effective tool for monitoring criminal activity and ensuring public safety. However, by monitoring the behavior of individuals, CCTV cameras encourage self-regulation, and hence, panopticism in society.
The surveillance of CCTV cameras creates a sense of being watched, even when there is nobody physically present. The constant presence of CCTV cameras influences individuals to conform to social norms and act in a way that is regarded as socially acceptable. This is exemplified in the phenomenon of the ‘halo effect’ where individuals are encouraged to behave ethically and courteously, even in the absence of authorities. The fear of being caught on CCTV cameras restrains individuals from committing acts that violate social norms, creating a self-regulatory system with the constant surveillance of CCTV cameras as its driving force.
In conclusion, panopticism in contemporary society can be seen through the use of CCTV cameras that encourage self-regulation and conformity to social norms. By constantly monitoring individuals, CCTV cameras reinforce the idea that one is being watched, and therefore, encourages people to behave “properly” creating a panoptic system that operates within various institutions of our society.

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