The Panoptican Effect Essay Samples
Type of paper: Essay
Topic: Cyber Crimes, Surveillance, Camera, Life, Feeling, People, Love, Society
The Panoptican essentially means a view by all. It is a means through which the state exercises power over the lives of people. The state regulates human relations by means of surveillance. In the olden days it was used to deal with prisoners. The prisoners were placed in some place where they could be viewed yet they could not see any other person in the cells. A tower was built over the cells giving the impression that guards were watching. They always had the impression that they were being watched. This model was proposed by Jeremy Bentham as a way of controlling behavior at the least expense. Through Panoptican the individual may not know that he is being watched, but the he also knows that he may be watched. This in essence makes the individual the subject of the power that he wields. The feeling that a person’s actions are being watched has a way of controlling behavior.
In the modern society the state has continued to exercise state power by use of modern mechanisms. The state has introduced methods of monitoring the actions of the individuals. The use of surveillance cameras in streets and buildings is one way through which the state continues to influence human relations. A person has the feeling that someone is watching their actions or listening to their communications when in real sense this may not be happening. The tapping of telephone communications by intelligence agencies and investigative bodies is the modern day effect of Panoptican. The state wields much power by controlling the life of the individual. The individual has limited control over their lives. The mere presence of surveillance cameras alludes to the presence of a supervisor or police officers. This alone ensures that the right behavior is cultivated even though no one may be watching.
The increasing number of digital infrastructure in the modern society has led to increased monitoring of people’s lives. Surveillance has become part and parcel of the modern society. Almost all important buildings worldwide are fitted with surveillance camera. Homes and streets are also under surveillance.
Through the modern day surveillance, it may not be necessary to exercise power. It may be sufficient that the people have the feeling of visibility. The fact that a person feels that his actions are visible makes the state a controller of the social life of the individual. The individual is, therefore, in a prison setting because they lack the power to do things as they would have wished. The privacy of the individual is trampled upon by the use of surveillance. There is the fear that the individual is being watched even in their privacy. The social lives of individuals are monitored through surveillance which is the effect of Panoptican as invented by Jeremy Bentham.
Surveillance creates the impression that every sound made is being overheard by the police and other intelligence agencies. It creates the feeling that every move made is being monitored by the police (Simon, B. pg.5). This presumption may not be true because it is not practical for the police to keep monitoring everyone all at the same time. However, even with this knowledge people still have the fear that their lives are under scrutiny by the state.
The surveillance cameras create the impression that the supervisor is watching over the people for any misconduct. The actual presence of the supervisor is not necessary in such a set up. The presence of cameras hanging over people’s heads is sufficient to achieve the right result. The State can, therefore, even remove genuine cameras from the streets and place fake ones but still achieve the same results. The presumption that a person is being watched gives results even if they actually not watched.
Through surveillance cameras an individual performs both the role of the subject and the principle (Simon, B. pg.6). He becomes the mastermind of his own subjection. This kind of monitoring creates the concept of self-policing. Individuals restrain themselves from certain conducts even though no one is demanding that they behave in any particular way. This is a perfect case of Panoptican. There is just a feeling that a person is being monitored. It cannot be verified. May what is fitted are not cameras at all, but mere imitations. People will still exercise self policing so as long they are not way that the surveillance cameras are not genuine.
The use of surveillance cameras has resulted into what Bentham intended to realize with his utilitarian philosophy. The surveillance reduces the expenses that would be incurred by creating order in the society. Through cameras there is no need for a teacher to bring a student to order or a guard to control a prisoner. A worker does not need to be monitored because the feeling that someone is watching makes the workers their own supervisor. The feeling that a supervisor is present ensures compliance with rules and brings order to society. There is no need to use force in this approach. It is a game minds and force is not necessary.
Simon, B. The Return of Panopticism: Supervision, Subjection and the New Surveillance, 2005, Surveillance & Society 3(1):1-20, Retrieved on 26th February 2015, Retrieved from http://www.surveillance-and-society.org/Articles3%281%29/return.pdf