Is Foucault Right?

The idea of panopticism, proposed by French philosopher Michel Foucault, enforces surveillance and the idea of punishment, rather than punishment itself. It is an idea that shifts away from a single authority figure, like a king or queen, and shifts to a more group-based system. The control of the population falls on an organization so power is dispersed. In my opinion, Foucault’s idea is heavily associated with the modern age due to technological advancements. The example of prisons is used to showcase the idea, but there are many other places that panopticism is utilized. For example, surveillance is used in schools, neighborhoods, businesses, online, and more. In recent years, advancements in technology have led to increased surveillance possibilities.

One specific example of panopticism is embedded into our society is through road monitoring and surveillance. This is enforced through cameras and police officers. To control the regulations and rules of the road there are cameras at stoplights or on lamp points. These cameras are monitors around the clock. Sometimes the cameras are obvious and paired with signs saying, “photos enforced”. These signs and the cameras are an acknowledgment of surveillance. Although these cameras are possibly not on, but the potential for road violations causes most to drive with discretion. Also, speed check signs also contribute to drivers following the role. Additionally, drivers on the road are constantly under the surveillance by police cars. In the same way that the security cameras monitor the cars on the road, police cars will sit on the side of the road or drive with the traffic. Sometimes the patrol cars are hidden when monitoring drivers on the road. This constant feeling of being watched usually causes drivers to avoid driving in an unsafe or illegal way. Overall, people are controlled in society but the belief of being watched and the possibility of punishment.

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