Beyond Foucault: New Perspectives on Bentham's Panopticon
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In his hugely influential book Discipline and Punish, Foucault used the example of Jeremy Bentham's Panopticon prison as a means of representing the transition from the early modern monarchy to the late modern capitalist state. In the former, power is visibly exerted, for instance by the destruction of the body of the criminal, while in the latter power becomes invisible and focuses on the mind of the subject, in order to identify, marginalize, and 'treat' those who are regarded as incapable of participating in, or unwilling to submit to, the disciplines of production. The Panopticon links the worlds of Bentham and Foucault scholars yet they are often at cross-purposes; with Bentham scholars lamenting the ways in which Foucault is perceived to have misunderstood panopticon, and Foucauldians apparently unaware of the complexities of Bentham's thought. This book combines an appreciation of Bentham's broader project with an engagement of Foucault's insights on economic government to go beyond the received reading of panopticism as a dark disciplinary technology of power. Scholars here offer new ways of understanding the Panopticon projects through a wide variety of topics including Bentham's plural Panopticons and their elaboration of schemes of 'panoptic Utopia', the 'inverted Panopticon', 'panoptic governance', 'political panopticism' and 'legal panopticism'. French studies on the Panopticon are groundbreaking and this book brings this research to an English-speaking audience for the first time. It is essential reading, not only for those studying Bentham and Foucault, but also those with an interest in intellectual history of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and those studying contemporary surveillance and society.
is to optimise the limited economic resources of the liberal government.65 However, the analysis seems less appropriate in relation to the chrestomathic- and the constitutional-Panopticons. It does not allow Foucault to consider panopticism beyond the area of the optimising liberal State. In this taxonomy, the panoptical mechanisms are geared towards producing disciplinary power. Foucault takes a step backwards to get a wider view of the first two Panopticons, and to take his reflections on
addressed. The issue of understanding Foucault’s interpretation of Bentham must be understood within the context of the publication and circulation of his works, as this chapter will suggest; it is also, however, related to the wider development of Foucault’s thought between 1975 and 1978. Any reading of Foucault should be guided by these principles, but subsequent questions must also be addressed: why re-read Foucault now? And what is at stake in this venture? The answers to these questions
was not contradictory with the locking up of individuals in disciplinary institutions. It complemented it, but could not be equated with it. 7 Foucault, Surveiller et punir, p. 222, translated as Foucault, Discipline and Punish, p. 222. 8 Ibid. 9 M. Foucault, ‘L’œil du pouvoir (interview with J.-P. Barou and M. Perrot)’, in J. Bentham, Le Panoptique (Paris: Belfond, 1977); translated as Foucault, Dits et écrits, vol. 2, pp. 194–207. The statement is in Foucault, Dits et écrits, vol. 2, p.
exactly the same way as the hospital emerged thanks to the increased medicalisation of its organisation and its function. The hospital is seen as a machine to cure, in the wider context of increasing health awareness; in the same way, the prison is seen as a machine to punish, in the context of the increasing use of punishment in society. The hospital and the prison existed before their organisation was rationalised, but they were places of disorder and filth, rather than discipline, places where
Clarendon Press, 1996), p. 11. 26 27 From Discipline and Punish to The Birth of Biopolitics 55 being of the population as a whole. In this new régime, each individual must be placed within a field of visibility, whatever his position and his status. The legislator is not the only one who must see in order to control, but each and every individual must see and be seen in the most extensive manner. In this space of ‘shared gaze’, as one can now call society, behaviour is no longer determined by