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Panopticism by Michel Foucault Essay

In Foucault’s Essay on Panopticism he describes how in the Seventeenth Century they began to control the spread of a plague. He begins by explaining what measures were taken to control the plague, such as quarantine and forced separation. One thing that really stood out to me is that he said everyone is locked up in his cage which makes me think of a prison but they were in there own houses.

Throughout the essay he breaks down our social/economical systems and explains societies mentality on the law system. Many times his explanation is very much based off of J. Bentham’s “Panopticon”. Which in todays view we would describe as a prison. These forms of discipline were used during the plagues, which has been the support for much of the discipline that was apparent during that time. He also explains how he feels a person should be disciplined and he looks at it from many different angles. I think this is how he describes a disciplinary action and is a key model for all to follow. In disciplining that way it would make the individual a better person, “exercising power without division” is an example.

Foucault’s essay is very interesting because I can relate it to our society now and how much control our government has over us. For an example the prison system, even though we aren’t quarantining people with diseases by putting them “away”. We use the system to keep a balance in the society. And in a way it keeps a lot of people in line by knowing what the consequences are of committing a crime. And I think that is what Foucault is essentially describing when he talks about the quarantine.


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