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The panopticon was a prison model developed by the English social theorist and philosopher Jeremy Bentham in the late 1780s and has, subsequently, been implemented in prison design and construction around the world. The panopticon's design was such that everything (pan) could be seen and observed (opticon) at any time. Panopticism as a social theory emerged in the 1970s as a way of theorizing relationships between power, surveillance, and society. Highly influenced by Michel Foucault's famous book Discipline and Punish, panopticism contends that surveillance and power are intimately intertwined and manifest through particular procedures and apparatuses connected to technological inventions. Panopticism holds that these procedures, apparatuses, and technologies ultimately serve to discipline society, eliminating obfuscation through observation.

The first interests of Michel Foucault - Madness, the birth of the asylum and the clinic - may seem far removed from the law. However, the study of institutions which, in the general hospital, in the prison were "treated" sick and miserable, crazy and debauched, vagrants and criminals, led to re-examine these gestures which usually made us forget the strangeness: confined to heal and to include discipline (Lyon, 2006). The study of disciplinary practices Michel Foucault has helped to clarify the operation of the modern penal system. While this perspective may seem like a radical vision with respect to representations of common law, it may well be also one of the most illuminating critical approaches of tensions in contemporary penal systems, and beyond, while our system the law. Jean-Claude Monod, a graduate of the Ecole Normale Supérieure (Ulm), Associate in Philosophy, is currently a lecturer at the University of Paris-I. In the next section, we will present a detailed summary regarding “Panopticism”.

Discussion & Analysis

Foucault's Panopticon

Foucault's interest in panopticism stemmed from his reading of Bentham's prison model, which he then applied to other social institutions, such as the state, education, religion, and technology. Foucault contended that Bentham's panopticon design brought to light ideas about order and power that have long existed. In the panopticon, Foucault observed that the orbital design, which enabled inmates to be viewed at all times, meant that those people doing the viewing amass a great deal of power. In this scenario, a few people retain power, while numerous people are affected by the manifestation of such power. This same consolidation of power in which multitudes are affected by a few powerful actors, maintained Foucault, can be witnessed in myriad social institutions. Some scholars of Foucault contend that his observation of ordering and disciplining of society emerged from a basic skepticism about modernist projects and ways of thinking (Dobson, 2007).

The paradox of Foucauldian analysis of prison space is that they place less emphasis on the aspect of the exhibition closed on the prisoner's always possible to look control bodies. In this, Discipline and Punish continues what might be called the "critical, political visibility" started in the early works of Foucault. The History of Madness, already imagined that the darkness of the dungeon was perhaps less restrictive than the "perpetual trial" to ...