On Michel Foucault’s Surveillance Society Essay Sample

7 July 2017

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The constructs “modem” and “post-modern” have become common currency in rational arguments. Within such arguments. the postmodern is perceived as an era. a position. or an wholly new paradigm of idea. Such a construct of the aforesaid term stems from its rootedness in the construct of the modern. Chia notes that what distinguishes the postmodern from the modem is “a manner of believing which eschews the noncritical usage of common footings such as ‘organizations’ . ‘individuals’ . ‘environment’ . ‘structure’ . and ’culture’ . etc” ( 1995. p. 579 ) . These footings refer to the being of societal entities and properties within a modernist construct of societal world. The principle behind this lies in the ontological construct of being which privileges believing in footings of distinct phenomenal provinces. inactive properties and consecutive events.

As opposed to such an ontological construct of world. the postmodern stands as the title-holder of weak signifiers of ontology that “emphasize a transient. passing and emergent reality” ( Chia. 1995. p. 579 ) . If such is the instance. it thereby follows that a postmodernist position of world adheres to believe manners wherein world is deemed to be continuously in flux and transmutation and hence unrepresentable thereby impossible to locate within a inactive construct of world. An acceptance of a post-modernist position of world thereby leads to a rethinking of the modern constructs of societal world since attachment to postmodernist positions lead to the de-emphasis on signifiers and properties. Such a construct of world ; nevertheless tends to stress the importance of local methods. which jointly define a societal world. In a sense. the displacement from a modern to a postmodern construct of world thereby leads to the re-definition of bing ontological constructs of world that determine the assorted signifiers of rational precedences every bit good as theoretical judicial admissions in the survey and construct of being. Such a perceptual experience of world [ that is extremely characterized by the postmodern bend ] is apparent in Michel Foucault’ perspectives as to the workings of societal world.

Michel Foucault’s usage of Jeremy Bentham’s construct “panopticon’ in his bookDiscipline and Punishnowadayss a treatment of the facet of surveillance while puting accent on a cardinal alteration and interrupt ensuing from the alterations in the societal and theatrical agreements during the 1800’s. The difference in methodological analysis is apparent if one considers that every bit opposed to the old methodological analysis wherein the many see the few. modern methodological analysis has enabled the displacement wherein the few see the many. Foucault notes that such a displacement shows the mode in which “the instantaneous position of a great multitude” is procured for a little figure or even for a individual person ( 1974. p. 216 ) . He farther notes that the deductions of such show the mode in which

Our society is one non of spectacle. but of surveillance…We are much less Grecian than we believe. We are neither in the amphitheatre. nor on the phase. but in the panoptical machine. invested by its effects of power which we bring to ourselves since we are a portion of its mechanism. ( Foucault. 1974. p. 217 )

Such a position is based on the premise that society stands as the venue for the interplay of assorted signifiers of power dealingss. Such signifiers of power relation determine the mode in which an person situates himself/herself within his/her milieus. Surveillance. in this sense. may be seen as a method which society inscribes upon an person as he/she chooses to modulate his/her actions dependent upon the signifier of power relation in which he/she has direct entree. It is of import to observe. that Foucault’s impression of panopticonism besides emphasizes the being of freedom within a predefined infinite.

Understanding power is cardinal to understanding Foucault’s analysis of subjectiveness. Foucault explicitly rejects the paradigm of power as repression. reasoning that power is non merely negative but besides productive. He rejects the juridical theoretical account of power. wherein power is characterized as inhibitory. rule-based. uniform. and prohibitory. Harmonizing to this theoretical account. the topic is constituted as one who obeys this negative one-sided power. Foucault characterizes power as positive and productive. Power is everyplace. a multiplicity of force dealingss ; it is ever local and unstable. This ubiquitousness of power does non prevent opposition. On the contrary. opposition ( s ) can merely be in the strategic field of power dealingss. Power is action that runs through and between things ; power is first and first relational. Not merely is power ever a relationship. but power relationships exist everyplace.

Freedom. in this sense. is to be understood as composed of positive and negative facets. Although one exists within panoptical society. it is possible to prosecute in instances of positive freedom through the battle of actions. which contradicts the dominant discourses. In the popular women’s rightist motions. for illustration. such an act involves the redefinition of the feminine as opposed to the presumed patriarchal construct of the female. Such is the mode in which Foucault’s doctrine emphasizes the fluidness of constructions despite its being within a panoptical kingdom.


Chia. R. ( 1995 ) “From Modern to Postmodern Organizational Analysis” .Organizational Surveies16: 579-604.

Foucault. M. ( 1974 ) .Discipline and Punish The Birth of the Prison.New York: Vintage.

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