Media Control and Panopticon

It is a know fact that Media controls our thoughts knowingly or unknowingly. As we look around, we see there is no shortage of opinions.  We in the “Public Sphere, “are always bombarded by television, newspapers, radio, billboards, and advertisements all struggling to control our thoughts.  We often ask our selves questions about what political party should we vote for? what school should we apply to? what church should we belong to? and so forth…

I am sure many of us have different views on the above topics. The media certainly is quite clear about their news. For the above issues there is no lack for logical or reasoned arguments trying to convince us, on what side we should choose. Where are these views coming from? How do we come to know our beliefs? It is through words of Media that are lifted to the “voice of authority” that can cut throw our thoughts and leave us susceptible to any sound-good slogan.
One good example of media control I would say is, that in the beginning of the electoral campaign Media had their “top 3” candidates from Republicans and Democrats. They only showed pictures of Clinton, Obama, and Edwards for Democrats and McCain, Romney, and Giuliani for Republicans. Other candidates were totally ignored, which meant that unless people showed interest and did their own research to get some objective news, they were only given “news” through the biased eyes of the mainstream media.

Also please read the following article “Who Rules America” a very good example of Media control.

In relation to Foucault’s argument, the relationship between the prison and the wider society is indispensable. For Foucault the prison is not a marginal building in the edge of the city, but closely incorporated into the city. The same tactics of power and knowledge are prevalent in both sites and the doctrine and system of rules and regulations that control the delinquent also control the citizen. The source of this philosophy was, monasteries, hospitals and the army. Foucault’s contribution to this theory supports the fact that we cannot do away completely with prison, because our rationale and execution of punishment will not allow it. The prison is woven into the fabric of society permeating everywhere.

According to Foucault, the Panopticon represents the way in which discipline and punishment work in modern society. It is a plot of power in action because by looking at a plan of the Panopticon, one realizes how the processes of observation and examination operate. He says it is not a dream building, but a plot of power reduced to its ideal form. It perfects the operations of power by increasing the number of people who can be controlled, and decreasing the number needed to operate it. It gives power over people’s minds through architecture. As it can be inspected from outside, there is no danger of dictatorship. He gives examples of the formation of society that are based on various historical processes. He says what is new in the eighteenth century is the combination of disciplinary techniques that occurred within a development of other technologies. He adds, that the development of a disciplinary society involves socio-economic factors, particularly population increase and economic development. Hence I believe that Panopticon is for sure a hybrid of material/architectural, technological and psychological devices making it a useful distinction.



3 Responses to “Media Control and Panopticon”

  1. christinatx Says:

    I completely agree with you when you refer to the electoral campaign an the media’s influence. I think that too often, the public relies heavily on media outlets or news outlets to provide an “objective” point of view. I wonder if too, this has to do with the lack of interest in taking time to actually research the information that they seek. I think that this fits into the needs of our society to get our information or anything else in a quick package. As a result, we are left vulnerable to the media.

  2. andrewsmrz Says:

    To comment on media control and the elections I just have to mention Ralph Nader. I remember the last election and the election before that in which Ralph Nader tried and failed repeatedly to get in on debates. The arguments for him not being able to debate with the ‘major candidates’ were that the debates are not run by the public or the electable government, but often by private sponsors or foundations who control the rules such as who gets in and whose voice is heard. The issue here is context. There are many media outlets out there (in here?) but only a select few have the lion’s share of the audiences. Ralph Nader can shout all he wants, but if his voice is only featured in the marginal media (marginal in money and presence) then literally people watching the debates literally will not think about the issues he may raise. Similar to our buddy Noam Chomsky who is revered all in other countries but nearly invisible in the United States. Why? Because many media controlled by interests in this country do not want the very ideas and criticisms voiced or thought about. To control the context is to control the choices, the alternatives. When we have all the noise in our head, we literally cannot think of anything else.

  3. You wrote:

    “For Foucault the prison is not a marginal building in the edge of the city, but closely incorporated into the city. The same tactics of power and knowledge are prevalent in both sites and the doctrine and system of rules and regulations that control the delinquent also control the citizen.”

    In thinking about whether or not a building can control the behavior of the citizens, I thought that perhaps knowledge of what awaited lawbreakers inside the prison are a good control of public behavior. In theory, the fear of being caught and ending up in a well lit room with someone watching could be a good deterrent to crime. Recent studies have proved otherwise:

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