Is Foucault right?

According to French philosopher Michel Foucault, panopticism is an internalization of control and surveillance that works as a disciplinary mechanism. Panopticism is the belief that one is always being watched, which leads people to control their actions by social norms and expectations even when there is no one in a position of visible authority. This idea originated from Foucault’s examination of power relations in confinement settings such as prisons and hospitals, but it has since spread to many areas of modern society.

The spread of surveillance methods and technology is one common example of panopticism in contemporary society. The widespread use of surveillance in the digital age is made possible by technological innovations like online tracking tools, facial recognition software, and CCTV cameras.

These tools create an atmosphere, where individuals are aware, consciously or subconsciously, that their actions may be monitored and scrutinized at any given moment. As a result, this awareness shapes behavior, pushing people in the direction of societal norms and expectations.

Social media sites are prime examples of panopticism in the digital area.  When people share their thoughts, activities, and personal information online, they voluntarily expose themselves to ongoing surveillance. Their online behavior is shaped by the awareness that their posts are being seen by friends, acquaintances, and maybe even complete strangers. This awareness causes them to self-censor and adhere to social norms. In addition, the algorithms these platforms use to select content amplify the feeling that one is being observed since users alter their actions to receive likes.

Furthermore, the normalization of surveillance in public spaces, workplaces, and educational institutions reinforces the panoptic gaze. The constant presence of surveillance, which ranges from employee monitoring systems to security checkpoints at airports, promotes a culture of self-control and conformity to norms. People become accustomed to the idea that they are being observed and modify their actions accordingly, which feeds the vicious cycle of social control.

In conclusion, the widespread use of surveillance technologies and procedures has allowed panopticism to slowly seep into modern society. The feeling that one is being watched all the time has a significant impact on how people behave, requiring conformity to social norms and expectations. As a result, the panoptic gaze still shapes and controls social behavior in the digital age, upholding a surveillance and control culture.

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