Panopticism and Plagued Villages


In the main article for this week the concept of an observation system known as a Panopticism was evaluated.  The author, Michael Foucault, did a great job of analyzing this concept with an in depth discussion on how plagued villages in Europe during the Bubonic Plague were similar to a Panopticism.  The author offered up many different reasons as to why these villages fell under the description of this unique observation system.  The system is essentially a way in which the observer can supervise the observed at all times.  The layout of a Panopticism is a circle of rooms with a guard tower (observation station) in the middle.  It is made so the observed can be seen at all times but the observed can’t see the observer.  The observed never knows whether or not they are being watched but they know at any moment they could be watched.  This allows for a physiological guarding in which the observed won’t try to escape or make a mistake because they don’t know whether or not they are being watched.  Like I mentioned before, the author compared this observation system to the plagued villages in Europe during the time of the Bubonic Plague.  One way in which the two were similar is in the villages, the citizens were watched by guards at all times and a guard could observe a whole street at one moment.  However, the villagers couldn’t see the guards because they couldn’t step out of their houses which allowed the guard to remain unseen.  Also most villagers never attempted to leave the house because they didn’t know whether or not they were being watched at any particular moment.  This allowed for the physiological guarding part of the system to kick in and do most of the guarding instead of the guards having to do constant surveillance 24/7.  The system of order is another way in which the plagued village is like a Panopticism.  The observer being superior to the observed is a true for a Panopticism and it was definitely true for the plagued villages too.


About kimberlybrown22

I am a sophomore student at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and my major is Physical Education Teacher Education/Biology Education. I love playing sports and hanging out with people. Meeting new people is probably my all time favorite activity though. :)

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