Is Foucault Right?

Panopticism can be seen in the distribution and excessive use of surveillance technology in public spaces and online environments in our modern society. The panopticon is the idea that people change their behavior when they believe they are being watched. This self-regulation creates a sense of discipline, where people conform to society’s rules without being held accountable. Government operated and privately owned cameras have become present in urban landscapes, shopping malls, workplaces, and even residential neighborhoods. Individuals who are aware of being watched tend to modify their behavior to meet societal expectations. The presence of cameras in public spaces fosters a subtle form of social control. People don’t do deviant or unconventional things because they know their movements are being recorded. The collection of personal data by tech companies and social media platforms has been ingrained with panoptic tendencies. A sense of being constantly monitored is created by online surveillance, which is often masked through data analysis and collection. Individuals are influenced by this perceived notion of constant probing to censor their online expressions and conform to standards to avoid potential repercussions or judgement. Our society is impacted by individual behavior and larger societal dynamics as a result of the increase in surveillance. The threat of surveillance can help prevent and stifle dissent, discourage non-conformity, and reinforce power dynamics by regulating and influencing collective behavior. “Panoptic control”, whether it be physical or virtual, underscores the general influence of surveillance technologies in shaping social interactions. A modern expression of panopticism is reflected in the prevalence of surveillance technology in public and digital spaces. The relevance of Foucault’s insights into power, control, and discipline are emphasized by the subtle yet strong impact of constant surveillance on individual behavior. Understanding and critically analyzing panoptic mechanisms is important in navigating through the complexities of our modern surveillance culture.

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