Michel Foucault was a French Psychologist and Philosopher who is widely regarded as one of the foremost thinkers of the 20th century (Wood 2014).
Based on the work of Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon (UCL n.d.)which described a circular incarceration system designed to facilitate reform. Foucault examined the way the western penal system had developed and examined the role of authority and control, from torture, public execution to constant surveillance. (Wood 2014)
Foucault died in 1984 when the digital age was still in its infancy but since then his work has been used as the basis for reflecting on the prevalence of surveillance in modern society.
The focus has mainly been around the methods of control, where once torture and brutality were exhibited as a means to deter future crimes with those bearing witness to such acts would not break the law. This moved on to a version of total control where inmates in a prison are under constant watch and any transgressions can be immediately rectified.
It is this constant scrutiny of the lives of the prisoners now has alarmingly similarities to our modern lives. Our constant engagement with digital devices is opening us not only to having all our actions tracked but increasing methods of control that can be used to influence our ways of thinking. Foucault successfully argued that forced control methods such as those seen through torture prove ineffective and better results can be gained from subtle methods.
The work of Foucault directly links to my project and his argument underpins my own findings. Understanding his concepts and arguments have influenced me in how my work has developed so far.