Panopticon is a circular structure with an inspection tower at its centre, from which the supervisor is able to watch the inmates. There are two advantages of Panopticon. First of all because every prisoner in the Panopticon is separated from each other, there is no chance for them to communicate, which reduces the possibility for prisoners to escape. Second, through the center tower of Panopti...(2回应)
Panopticon is a circular structure with an inspection tower at its centre, from which the supervisor is able to watch the inmates. There are two advantages of Panopticon. First of all because every prisoner in the Panopticon is separated from each other, there is no chance for them to communicate, which reduces the possibility for prisoners to escape. Second, through the center tower of Panopticon prisoners’ behaviors are all under complete surveillance; the supervisor can detect all the prisoners at one time while the prisoners cannot see the supervisor. The second advantage of Panopticon creates a sense of fear among the prisoners; prisoners cannot verify the presence of the people in the center of the tower, thus they tend to discipline themselves automatically with or without the presence of the supervisor.
“the major effect of the Panopticon: to induce in the inmate a state of conscious and permanent visibility that assures the automatic functioning of power”[ Foucault, Michael. Ways of Reading. Panopticism. Pg 288], which means strengthening the power system by implanting psychological uncertainty. Inmates are not certain with whether they are being watched or not. Due to the fear of being caught by the watcher while they misbehave, inmates become the supervisor of themselves.
Another similarity in the architectural structure and the plague town is that although higher power manipulates the lower level, the source of power is not completely in the hands of the authority but in the sense of fear and the sense of uncertainty. As stated in Bentham’s principle, “Power should be visible and unverifiable.”[ Foucault, Michael. Ways of Reading. Panopticism. Pg 288] “Visible” can be defined as knowing the existence of the supervisor and punishment; and “unverifiable” can be defined as not knowing whether the supervisor is present or not at certain time.
However, there is also a significant difference between these two systems. In a plague town power transfers from the syndic to the intendant of the quarter, and then eventually is centralize in the hand of the magistrate. This system requires executors who each carry certain responsibility in order to functionalize the system. The Panopticon requires less labor to function. It’s like a mechanical machine produce automatically. Also Plague occurs at a special occasion in which death and violence manipulate everyone’s behavior. Once the disease is gone, the foundation of the system is dissipated. Meanwhile, the Panopticon depends more on the prisoners’ psychology, which is much more stabilized.
Here we can see Panoticism as the new order and the traditional ruling system, such as dictatorship and monarchy, as the old order. The old order is a one-way power. Use dictatorship as an example: the dictator deprives power from the citizens and has a complete control over others. This unequally distributed power system can be easily broken down when people have different opinions and start to go against their leader. However, in the new order power never stays in one person but in the entire system. Power is not in the hands of one individual, but in a circulation.