Panopticism

After reading Foucault’s work, I began to think about what ways I have experienced control via the thought of being watched. I feel like as a society we use surveillance heavily as a sense of safety and control. For example, at my previous job on the first day, they showed us the room with the camera footage of the entire store and showed us the screens where you could see any view of the store. Essentially they threatened us by showing us how they could zoom in on an employee’s cell phone to see what they were doing. They showed us this to establish a sense of control by surveillance. Obviously this is not true for every job but companies typically use cameras to keep their employees and customers behaving accordingly. I would be lying if I said I didn’t act differently when I remembered that someone might be watching me on the cameras. For all I know the office with the camera screens could be empty but the idea that someone was watching me had already been implanted in my head. Surveillance in a space like this means that you can get “caught” doing something you shouldn’t be doing even if it’s something small like being on the phone while clocked in. This is the same concept of the prison inspired by Foucault’s panopticism because even though there’s a belief that someone is always watching you it isn’t necessarily true. If you believe that someone is always watching you or that you’re constantly under surveillance then you will act as if you were. Why would you misbehave if you know you’re being watched? In society, this form of control is used all the time, the same concept is seen with the use of signs that say “Smile you’re on camera”. This form of control is very effective in my opinion.  

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