Media, Control, and the Panopticon

I would first like to apologize for not posting last week and my temporary memory loss.

Both Galloway and Foucault discuss the creation of structures and networks to manage information or people.  Foucault addresses this from a physical standpoint of how not just prisons, but common institutions can invoke a sense of being in a panopticon structure without a true conscious awareness of it. Galloway on the other spectrum provides examples from a technological perspective.  Protocols of computer networks are just a controlled as a panopticon system. “If networks are the structures that connect people, then protocols are the rules that make sure the connections actually work” (Galloway 8). Most are thought to believe that there is a singular internet network that allows people to freely share information, but rather as Galloway suggests the internet is a series of networks and protocols that determine where the information is to be shared. With the readings from both Foucault and Galloway, media is able to control people’s behavior through a series of structures (architecturally or through networks) that organizations see fit for consumers. The way we function on a daily bases depicts how and when media can influence its control on people. I believe that media can be able to control people’s behavior through an idea of a false sense of control. Media is able to control people’s behavior by tracking and tracing what we as consumers watch, eat, drink, listen to, wear, etc. Not to go off on a tangent, but I believe that there is something that this has to do with the factor of repetition of what media is distributing. I’ll refer to advertising as an example. How many times has anyone seen the same advertisement everyday on the bus or subway? Can this then influence is the person actually purchases a product? There are always going to be people watching and evaluating what consumers and the general public demand and as a society we are used be being watched and scrutinized.


3 Responses to “Media, Control, and the Panopticon”

  1. katherineer Says:

    I definitely agree with you that media controls individuals unconsciously. I really liked the example you gave of advertising. Advertisers continuously advertise their products repetitively, which I think does have an effect on consumers because often times the more ads there are of a certain product determines their popularity, thus controlling consumers to buy the product.

  2. murtaza14 Says:

    To add to katherineer’s comments it is for sure that advertisements today play a major role to influence the audience. Specially these days most of the advertising companies will attach a celebrity to their brand or they would hold some kind of game show to influence peoples behavior, thus leading them towards buying the product.

  3. While I do agree that advertising is a good place to observe look at how manipulation by media can work, it may be a little too overt to really relate to the kind of control being called out by Foucault. The typical advertiser-consumer relationship is completely open. Advertisers fully admit they are looking to convince you to purchase something. It is very superficial – when you see a billboard in Times Square it purports to be nothing other than that, sometimes you will note that these billboards even have signs that say “put your ad here”. Is there something inherently wrong with advertising? Perhaps, but I am inclined to say no, since at it’s core advertising is merely persuasive speech, and that is one of the basic modes of human interaction. Who doesn’t participate in that? The problem is when the relationship is more insidious and part of a larger structure – like the “The Beauty Myth” referenced by mediasaucy. The key is to be an educated consumer. Part of the problem in educating consumers is that it is too easy to deamonize the advertising industry and in doing so we alienate people from something that makes them feel good. People enjoy the relationships they build around being a consumer. They feel good when making smart choices, saving money or buying something that identifies them with a particular lifestyle or group of people. Unfortunately, a discussion centered around advertising and control I think ends up distracting from larger systems at play. This doesn’t go so deeply into socio-political control issues but is a great primer:

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