Analysis of Michel Foucault’s Book “Discipline and Punish: The Birth of Prison”

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This paper will analyse the chapter titled “Panopticism” from Michel Foucault’s book Discipline and Punish: The Birth of Prison ( 1975 ) and chapter two of Pedagogy of the Oppressed ( 1970 ) by Paulo Freire. Both readings portion a common yarn: the acknowledgment by the writers of the methods of subjugation in the establishments of society. One writer does non portion the optimism of the other. nevertheless. I will get down with a brief life of each writer and so explicate the footings panopticon and panopticism. Following. I will sum up the two authors’ plants and research their positions on schooling and systems of control.

In the sum-up of Freire’s work. he imagines that his pupils will liberate themselves from the dictatorship that has subjugated them and so revolutionise society. I will specify the what he means by the term “free. ” Finally. I will oppugn if it is possible to go free in the manner that Freire imagines. Foucault sees a much wider usage of these techniques throughout society. He has outlined a history of how we became a surveillance society and why. Michel Foucault ( 1926-1984 ) Michel Foucault was born in Poitiers. France in 1926. He was recognized as a talented rational from a immature age.

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He is an of import figure in twentieth century doctrine. but he had a grade in psychological science and made important parts to several of the Fieldss of the societal scientific disciplines. He wrote several books such as The Archeology of Knowledge ( 1969 ) and The Order of Things ( 1970 ) . The chapter titled “Panopticism” from his book Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison ( 1975 ) gives a history of how power and control is exerted over the population. Paulo Freire Paulo Freire was a good known pedagogue born in Brazil in 1921. He was born into a comparatively good off in-between category household ( Roberts. 4 ) .

When his male parent died during the Great Depression. his household was forced to travel to a poorer vicinity ( Roberts. 4 ) . The poorness he experienced and interaction with the hapless played a big portion in the development of his doctrine of instruction. He graduated from college with a grade in jurisprudence. but he abandoned the legal profession after his first instance ( Roberts. 4 ) . He was more interested in transforming society through the transmutation of persons. He believed that instruction was a manner to liberate the person from the restraints of an oppressive society.

Panopticon The definition of the panopticon and its beginning are critical in understanding the systems of control that Freire and Foucault have written about. The construct underpinning the methods of subjugation is incredibly simple. The panopticon is the most clever construct for exercising the most power over the greatest figure of people with great efficiency. Foucault traces the development of the panopticon since the seventeenth century. Plagues were frequent visitants to Europe at this clip. When the unwellness reared its ugly caput in a town. that town was quarantined.

They divided it into four subdivisions. each with a warden accountable to the male monarch or one of the king’s magistrates. Every street was overseen by a syndic that answered to the warden. Cipher could go forth their house under hurting of decease. This hierarchy carried out the crown’s orders was the ideal state of affairs in the eyes of the monarchy because it exerted a batch of power over a big subdivision in an economical manner. That was a crude precursor to the panopticon. The panopticon was foremost proposed as a design for a prison by the English philosopher Jeremy Bentham.

The theoretical account of the panopticon is “easy one time you’ve idea of it” ( Foucault ) . The layout of the panopticon designed by Bentham was a circular cardinal tower with Windowss all around to let a 360 degree position. Surrounding the cardinal tower is a ring shaped constructing with many single cells. each large plenty for one adult male. This agreement allows the individual in the cardinal tower to be able to see any cell. One individual in the cardinal tower could supervise tonss or even 100s of persons. It would besides be arranged so that the individual in the cardinal tower could non be seen by anyone outside of the tower.

The inmates would ne’er cognize when they were being watched. Bentham saw its possible non merely as a design for a penal establishment. but for mills. schools. and any establishment that involved many people could easy be supervised by merely a few people in the panopticon. Bentham pointed out that it would coerce inmates or workers to conform to the criterions of the establishment it functioned within. As the panopticon or the construct of the panopticon was adopted by prisons and mills. the construct began to propagate throughout society. Schools could be used as a tool of control.

In 19th century France. a pupil that was misconducting at school was excuse adequate for school functionaries to look into the student’s household. They would speak to neighbours of the student’s household in an effort to find the moral character of the parents. Interviews with the parents served as a reminder of the wakefulness of the school and farther extend the scope of the province. This was the start of the thought of the panopticon spread outing into society. Gradually. the construct of the panopticon has penetrated every facet and establishment of society. One of the cardinal elements of the panopticon is the separation of persons.

The integrity of the crowd is boisterous. unmanageable. and unpredictable. The separation can be a concrete wall or an office cell. The higher the divider. the better. Separation will halt coaction and confederacies to undermine authorization. A individual homo is much easier to command than a group of them. Peoples can be separated by more than walls. This is one manner that use of the multitudes can travel unnoticed. Fear is an first-class splitter. Fear of the neighbour being a terrorist or aliens in the street being rapers or liquidators helps to split the population into of all time smaller divisions.

Psychological methods to insulate one individual from the other can be every bit effectual as a steel coop. Divide and conquer. The other critical constituent is continual. unverified observation. In other words. you can ne’er cognize when you are being watched or if you are being watched. Everyone is watched or under the menace that they could be watched in the panopticon. The cognition that one can be scrutinized at any clip has an interesting consequence. Peoples under changeless observation or the menace of changeless observation Begin to supervise themselves and sometimes those in their immediate propinquity.

In this manner. the panopticon is self prolonging. It is an automatic system of self ordinance. The gradual addition of surveillance through the usage of CCTV is an illustration of the diffusion of the panopticon throughout society. but non a dilution of the power it represents. Its psychological consequence. nevertheless. is where its strength lies as a tool for control. The flexibleness of the panopticon meant it could be adapted to work in other sectors of society. It is the abstract elements of the panopticon that has pervaded society and non so much the architectural design.

The coveted effects of the panopticon can be achieved in an limitless figure of ways. It does non hold to attest itself as a edifice like Bentham’s prison design. The specifying features of the panopticon can be realized without steel and concrete. The consciousness of being on show and being compartmentalized are powerful instruments when they can be achieved without much construction. The fewer physical constituents is has. the more it can spread through society. As it disperses. it becomes less and less seeable. but its power does non melt.

To the contrary. it seems to turn more powerful the less seeable it becomes. Ironically. the intangible facets of panopticism are its most powerful. This is how it is the ultimate tool for a smattering of people to govern a huge population. Freire and the Banking System Freire recognized a elusive signifier of subjugation in what he called the banking system of instruction. Freire has made an sharp observation in his designation and appraisal of the banking system. . He used this name because in the banking system. the instructor made sedimentations of facts into the sensed empty heads of the pupils.

They become containers for the instructor to lodge the facts and figures of the course of study into. Freire’s banking system is a perfect illustration of panopticism. The instructor is the lone holder of cognition in the banking system of instruction. The pupils are considered to hold no cognition and should be thankful that they are acquiring an “education. ” The banking system of instruction undermines creativeness and stifles meaningful acquisition. Students memorize the words of the instructor. but non the significance of the topics or objects behind the words. It is ever a one-way flow of words from the instructor to the pupils.

The pupils are the inactive depositories for the lessons to be deposited into. The banking system objectifies the pupils. The more inactive the pupil. the better the they will conform with society and the better a instructor is rated. A existent duologue between instructor and pupils is unthinkable because the pupil is viewed as an empty vas and has nil to learn. In this system. people are to be adapted to society-the society the oppressors have created. Separation of the individual from the universe is an of import dogma of the banking system. Here excessively. as in the panopticon. separation is indispensable.

Separation of the person from the universe. Separation from many of the facts of world. Separation of consciousness from the person. Like the panopticon. the mantra is divide and conquer. It serves to confound pupils and creates the semblance that the teacher’s actions are their ain ( Freire. ) . The more clip spent memorising the teachers’ hollow words. the less clip they have to reflect on themselves to detect who they are. The less one knows about themselves and what they want out of life. the easier it is for person else to specify it for them and state them what they want.

Like These banking methods are used to model people to suit into banking society. The banking system is merely an one illustration of panopticism: it is an execution of the cardinal characteristics of the panopticon. usage made for the educational system. Freire’s Freedom Freire believed that his attack to instruction has the possible for impacting great alterations in an person and the society they live in. Freire imagines pupils rousing to the worlds of the banking system’s subjugation and liberating themselves. What sort of freedom does Freire intend?

The freedom he imagines is merely non physical freedom to travel where one wishes. Obviously. it is much deeper than that. It is one that emerges from a student/teacher relationship in which acquisition is reciprocated and they are spouses in acquisition. Both of the labels “teacher” and “student” apply to both individuals because the instructor is unfastened to larning and the pupil is allowed. even encouraged. to learn what they know. The instructor must be willing to be a pupil every bit good. This attack to education hopes to uncover to the pupil that they are witting existences and non objects as the banking system views them.

They begin a ocean trip of self-discovery and see that they are connected to the universe and the procedures of life ( Freire. ) . When they are able to “critically see world. ” they take control of the way their life will take. To him. self realisation was the first measure in a womb-to-tomb procedure of going more human. Work force and adult females become liberated in this manner. This is the freedom Freire meant. Free to be human and transform society harmonizing to their vision and non be transformed by their oppressors to suit into their oppressive society.

What Happened To Our Dream of Freedom? Under the conditions of panopticism. is it possible to liberate oneself and so transform society as Freire envisions? Foucault’s reveals the alone signifier of control few have been able to joint. He has thoughtfully laid out the development of an unseeable system that recruits persons to watch themselves inadvertently. Why is this a bad thing? It is malevolent because it is beyond ordinance and public examination. Something of this magnitude that has such influence over the public certainly must hold at least some inadvertence.

How could it of all time be regulated when most can non even acknowledge it? If tomorrow. every individual recognized the system that has been softly pull stringsing their lives. what could be their resort? It is woven into the cloth of society. Invisibly intertwined with our schools. workplace. and places. Unfortunately. Freire’s dream of emancipation so social transmutation is non realistic. Foucault demonstrates the continual patterned advance of the state’s power. Technology has made it turn exponentially. Why would it halt spread outing? It will non even decelerate down.

Like the spread outing existence. it will merely speed up. The thought of the panopticon is every bit existent as a panoptic construction made of concrete and Fe. How could a pupil overthrow a banking instructor? Even if they could. they would non acquire far. The huge bulk of people are unwittingly under the sway of the province. The supplanter of the banking instructor would hold small support from sympathetic confederates. The most important ground that panopticism is malignant is because it is dehumanising. Worlds can non of all time do determinations that are wholly their ain.

Worlds can ne’er be themselves in such a system. The panopticon is so incorporate into society and has such a tight clasp that it will last every bit long as our society does. Conclusion Comparing Foucault and Freire’s essays. It is apparent that both acknowledge how power has learned to command and suppress through the establishments of society. Foucault sees the whole of society and the establishments in society ( schools. industry. prisons ) as being a vehicle for the effort of power that inadvertently controls the multitudes. The banking system is one fluctuation and a specific case of Foucault’s panopticism.

Freire recognizes the tools of an oppressive authorities that are used in the schoolroom to make docile and easy manageable citizens. Their thoughts diverge from here sing the opportunities of the dominated holding the ability to interrupt keeping them back from recognizing their full human potency. Freire is confident that the person can emancipate themselves and. with the aid of others who have freed themselves. transform society. Freire negotiations of pupils revolting and throwing off the yoke of the oppressors. but where could they go from at that place if the remainder of society and its establishments have adopted the theoretical account of the panopticon?

Foucault has a different position. one that is less optimistic. but more realistic. Panopticism is so endemic and effectual. that freedom will merely come from the prostration and regeneration of society. The governing category understands that the greatest menace to their hegemony is people and their subjection assures their continuity in power. Works Cited Bentham. Jeremy The Panopticon Writings. Ed. Miran Bozovic ( London: Verso. 1995 ) . p. 29-95 Darder. Antonia Reinventing Paulo Freire MA: Westview. 2002 Gutting. Ridicule The Cambridge Companion To Foucault NY: Cambridge. 1994

O’Farrell. Clare Michel Foucault CA: Sage. 2005 Roberts. Peter Education. Literacy. and Humanization: Researching the Work of Paulo Freire CT: Greenwood. 2000 Warschauer. M. . & A ; Lepeintre. S. ( 1997 ) . “Freire’s dream or Foucault’s incubus: Teacher-student dealingss on an international computing machine network” . Erectile dysfunction: R. Debski. J. Gassin. & A ; M. Smith. Language larning through societal computer science ( pp. 67-89 ) . Parkville. Australia: Applied Linguistics Association of Australia. Wood. David “Editorial. Foucault and Panopticism Revisited” Surveillance & A ; Society: 2003: 234-

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Analysis of Michel Foucault’s Book “Discipline and Punish: The Birth of Prison”. (2017, Jul 09). Retrieved from

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