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Lecture Three: Panopticism

Institutions and institutional power.

‘Literature, art and their respective producers do not exist independently of a complex institutional framework which authorises, enables, empowers and legitimises them. This framework must be incorporated into any analysis that pretends to provide a thorough understanding of cultural goods and practices.’ - Randal Johnson in Walker & Chaplin (1999)

Panopticism is a form Social control, the theme of this lecture, which has an affinity to the previous lectures of the gaze and the media and psychoanalysis

Panopticism is about how the society we are born into controls our actions and behavior and how our behaviors and actions are some how pre determined

Power that institutions hold over us (institutions that have a physical presence, organized bodies of men, eg. Prisons, Army, Police) or that have organized practices or behaviors like the family or marriage and the way in which they code and frame our behavior

People who produce culture not exist independently, they work within a complex institutional framework which authorizes what they do, and says what is good and bad, and allows them to do and not to do certain things

The term panopticism is based The panopticon, a building.

Panopticism is about forms of Discipline, power, types of punishment within sociological control

Michel Foucault, 1926-1984, wrote the key texts Madness and Civilization, Discipline and Punish: The birth of the prison

A project of Foucault was to deconstruct contemporary society, such as the mad and the sane, good and evil, heterosexual and homo sexuality. His projects were concerned with the differences between them and to expand upon what made them different

The great confinement: up until the 1660’s, but in the middle ages, no strict conception of madness, man lived a happy go lucky life, accepted and to live within society, fitted within the fabric of society, there was no separation between the sane and insane like there is today. A new sensibility emerged with a new attitude to work and the social usefulness of work, value to society that citizens have and how to make people better and more useful to society

All the people that are socially useless, people who aren't productive laborers, and therefore a problem to society, go to houses of correction which started to be built, they were like prisons or factories, that housed, the mad, criminals, drunken, vagabonds, the diseased, single mothers and pregnant women, inside they were assigned a task of work and made to work, they were beaten if they didn’t, a crude way of making the socially unproductive more productive, this was an exercise in moral and social reform, though the moral of doing moral work

This continued until the 18th century, they then became to be seen as mistake [the houses of correction], the deviants corrupted the productive, this lead to the production of separated,specialist institutions, like the hospital or the asylums. These were for housing them but also correcting them but within groups of commonality rather than all together

These worked on correcting the inmates in a different way to houses of before, instead of using violence they used more subtle techniques. They were treated like children, if they behaved in the way they wanted they were given rewards and celebrated, if they behaved badly they were chastised, by a paternal like figure

A shift occurs from premodern societies which controlled through physical control, within in modern society used subtly mind control, more about correcting people’s behavior, a modern form of discipline

Emergence of these institutions, specialist knowledge and experts began to exist which justify this treatment of people, ‘the doctor’ gains a high social authority, as they are experts in the field

The self validate the practices of these institutions, these institutions affect the way we think, control our behavior not through physical means but they make us responsible for our actions, and therefore take control of our discipline, which means they start behaving because they want the rewards we take responsibility for our own conformity, this is a modern sophisticated form of discipline

Pre modern was not about training or reforming, it was about spectacular punishment, that was visible to others, and as a reminder of the power of the state. Reminder not to test the state its a physical punishment the state will do this to your body.

In modern societies, called disciplinary society, enthused into every fabric of society, every aspect of our lives

Modern discipline, is a technique and revolves around surveillance and its aim is to control behavior, though thoughts and feeling but to improve our performance but to make us more useful to those in control. This is referred to panopticism, named after a building called the panopticon

The panopticon designed as a multifunctional building, could be a school, prison, asylum, could have many possible uses. Its a circular building, there are cells with walls on the out edge, where individuals would sit, on the periphery there are cells, each cell is open from the front, may have bars if it’s a prison like facility, facing into the interior, open from the front and light from the back, each cell has an individual in it, It has a mental affect, it is the perfect institution, a building that would function perfectly, in each cell a cell mate, is staring into the middle at a central viewing tower in the middle of the building, inmates can’t see each other, all they can see is the tower and the constant presence of the guards or supervisors in the tower. This has an affect opposite to the dungeon. The dungeon is where you hide, or lock away the criminal classes, forget about them, a form of mass social repression, however the panopticon everything is on display and well lit. In the panopticon you become a object or scrutiny, you are constantly reminded that you are being watched by someone who expects you to behave in a certain way, ultimately you never behave in way that doesn’t conform, you never mis behave because you will always be caught. Its an internal form of psychology torture. They know they are always been looked so they never behave out of line. The panopticon internalizes the conscious state that they are always being watched, once its driven in peoples minds, this results in power functioning automatically, a system where the members of the panopticon are always controlled, in the end you don’t need anyone in the panopticon because the inmate take responsibility for their own behavior, doesn’t need guards or staff because people control themselves.

Foucault is interested in that the panopticon as an allegory for how society controls its civilians.

The panopticon is also about how those in charge can experiment, classify and scrutinize and as a form of surveillance. Functions like a kind of a lab, a supervisor can measure and experiment, it makes the people more productive in the panopticon. It would treat patients in a variety of ways

Discipline for Foucault is about making them more useful and productive, works though a notion of institutional gaze. The patriarchal gaze of society onto women, women act up to male social definition of what it means to be a women. In the panopticon you start to behave in way that the institution wants you to behave without you being forced to do so. Behave in the interest of the institution

Targeted internal mental control, panopticon a model for how our world keeps us under control, for it to work, you must understand that we are always being watched, and then when you know you’re permanently being watched you behave and conform the institutions wants

You find them everywhere in your life, you can spot this system everywhere in modern life.

The open plan office, rather than the cellular office so that it encourages sharing and for everyone to get along, but really its so the boss can see everyone and keep them in control, it changes the work ethic of the workers. Always being watched so you start to conform

Open plan bars rather than pubs, the open plan bar everything is visible to bouncers and bar staff you feel socially awkward because you are always on display , this changes your behavior to be more in control of your behavior to conform.

Everywhere in society are cctv cameras, more and more every year, live in a surveillant society - every single action in our lives is recorded, internally this makes us modify our behavior

Pentonville prison to make teaching more efficient, lecture theatre. Behavior is being controlled, not being forced, conform to structured conforms of behavior

The register is a form of panoptic power, you attend classes because if you don’t those in power will monitor and enlist a more of punishment

Forcing you to behave in a certain way which makes you learn in a more effective and productive way, making you more useful through a form of mental power that you enact upon yourself, you are controlling yourselves, its not a power one might have over you,

Clocking in and out of work is a panoptic system, you stay beyond when you should stay because you think you might be praised for this.

Power, knowledge and the body

It’s a mental affect and mental process, not based on physical cohesion, this new form of power has a physical hold over our bodies, physically become better people and more productive, this produce what is called ‘Docile bodies’

Docile in that there is no resistance against the power, produces docile bodies that are obedient. Self monitoring, self correcting.

Product of modern society hyper obedient bodies

Mass docility: the cult of health, everywhere you go, on the beer mat it tells you how much to drink, on food how much you should eat, TV and ads and how much and what you should eat. Surrounded by images of what you should look like, a gaze, all pervasive, we start to feel guilty if you we don’t act up to these ideals, without being forced we start to physically train ourselves that we conform. Gyms are open plan, to show of how you are the perfect citizen. Mirrors everywhere to show this off. First thing new government did was raise retirement age, because of health, government keep people healthy, so they live longer, so they can work longer.

Watching TV or on the internet, we are there sedated and being told what to do and how to conform.

Foucault: power is not something someone holds over something else, we are not controlled by a individual in power, its about a power relationship between different groups, you enter into a relationship of power, you willingly enter this into this as a conformist, and willingness to conform to institutional guidelines

Power only exists in how much we let it control us, we are only oppressed because we let our selves be oppressed

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