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Discussion

Discuss about the Theory Of Surveillance In Informational.

A French philosopher Michel Foucault developed the concept of Panopticon in his book Discipline and Punish. The Panopticism social theory was evolved based on the Panopticon concept. The Panopticon is the experimental workshop of power where one could modify one’s behavior. Foucault viewed it as the ideogram of control or inspection of a disciplinary society. The unseen gaze of Panopticon acts as a form of power. In Foucault’s opinion, the Panopticon power constantly forces the modern men in the society to moderate their behavior to satisfy the society’s expectations[1].

The aim of this essay is to discuss critically how fitness or body enhancing apps force people to moderate their bodies to reflect the socially constructed norms while applying the Foucault’s theory of the Panopticism or disciplinary power structure. The essay will investigate on the influence of the body enhancing apps in the modern society in relation to Foucault’s Panopticon theory. 

Body enhancing mobile applications is apps that will remove the limitations of different parts of the human body applying the technology or editing software. It will provide the app users the perfect body shape if he or she wants to quickly fix his or her body. In the photo, the users could present themselves as owners of tight figure and slim physique if they use these kinds of apps. Some of the best body enhancing apps in market includes FaceTune for the iPhone users, Perfect365, Sanpseed, Instagram and Photo Cool. In these apps, the users need not to know any skills in Photoshop. Installing one of these applications, they could easily make themselves look beautiful.

The fitness mobile apps provide the necessary information regarding the weight loss, diabetics’ control, diet charts, food habits and lifestyle change. Some of the fitness apps act as the tracking tools. Here the users can count calories; log in the workouts, collect data about walks or runs to track one’s improvement. Some of the fitness apps include Cyclemeter, Spoyify, Charity Miles, Pear Personal Coach and many more[2].

The demands of these types of fitness or body enhancing apps are huge in the market. It is seen from the Google Play Store data that more than five million people install these body-enhancing apps. The users are very excited about using these apps. The review rates in these websites are in between 3.5 to 4. People are quite excited to use these apps which can be concluded from the reviews and ratings. 

Foucault in his book Discipline and Punishment built upon the concept of Panopticism originally proposed by Jeremy Bentham. The Panopticon is the circular building and in the centre of the building, there is an observation tower, which is an open space surrounded by an outer wall. The occupants remain in the cells that are situated in the outer wall. The occupants are easily distinguishable as there are huge lights and the walls are divided by the cells. In this structure, the occupants would be invisible from each other. As the bright light is emitted from the watchtower, the occupants cannot say when they are being watched. The design would be useful as it could facilitate effective surveillance[3]. However, this concept is associated with taking control over the prisoners in the prison cells; the panoptical style of architecture could be applicable in other institutions such as schools, hospitals and factories where the authority needs surveillance over its workers or students.

In the Discipline and Punish, Foucault elaborated on Bentham’s conceptualization of the Panopticon. He showed the function of the Panopticon mechanism as a tool of power. The occupants never knew who was watching them and when they were being watched. However, this passive surveillance would let them feel that a constant gaze is watching them and they would remain in fear all the time. The authority in this way could gain control over the occupants[4]. Foucault has argued that this constant watch of exerting power forces the occupants to continually moderate their behavior according the norms of the institution. 

Foucault’s concept could be applicable in the modern society. The Panopticism concept is a useful tool to analyze any contemporary power relation of any institution. The fitness or body enhancing apps act as a powerful model that determines the market trends and style.  In the market, it has much demand. People often interested in installing the body fitness and body enhancing apps. It acts as the power determinants in the capitalist modern society[5]. When the applications of body enhancement and fitness come in the market place, it occupies a major portion of the market. The advantages of these applications influence the consumers hugely and these trends affected people. Before, establishment of these apps, the public did not know about how to edit their faces or remove their body limitation by one click. However, when these apps are launched in the market, people started to use these in massive form. The reviews, rates and number of installations say this.

However, behind these consumers’ craze about using these kinds of mobile apps, a power play is continually happening. The capitalist form of power continually influences our behavior. Here the capitalistic form of power in relation to consumers needs is the mobile applications company, which continuously inventing different kinds of mobile applications that have different entertaining factors[6]. The consumers are constantly falling in the loops of this capitalist power structure. The capitalists are making their profits by changing the consumers’ needs. Here the capitalists create the needs of the consumers and the consumers are constantly attracted towards fulfilling their needs created by capitalism [7].

The needs of the consumers have reached in such a position that it has become a norm. For an example, one group of people uploads their edited photo in the Facebook or Instagram. Their photo differs from the original photo and they look attractive. Other groups of people who did not use the body enhancement apps automatically would influence by the behavior of the other groups as who does not want to look beautiful. These apps not only exerts craves in the female body for becoming beautiful to a particular standard, however, these applications has defined the parameter of beauty itself. For example, they define that carves in the female body to a particular extent appear attractive to the opposite sex and the fairness is considered more beautiful than the brownish skin tone.

 By creating a particular standard of beauty, these apps have defined the norms in the society. When huge numbers of members in a society start using a particular item, it has become the socially constructed norms to use that particular item. One group of society affects the behavior of the other group and the other group starts accommodating the newly constructed societal norms. The other group starts to change their behavior to a particular product.

The societal expectations are changed due to new inventions and applications. When the mobile apps are in the market and more consumers are using it, it has been a dominant power force in the society. This force constantly exerts pressures to the groups that are not using the apps to accept the norms of using the mobile application. The Foucault’s Panopticon concept could be applicable in this case. According to Foucault, the unseen gaze of the authority in the Panopticon design acts as the power. Similarly, the unseen gaze of the capitalistic form of power of the body enhancing or fitness app industry makes a power relation to the consumers[8]. As the Panopticon structure controls the behavior of the occupants in the cell while the authority remains invisible, similarly the body enhancing or fitness apps control the behavior of the consumers and constantly exerts pressure to accept the socially constructed norms of using the mobile applications. 

Conclusion

It can be concluded by stating that Foucault’s Panopticon concept is analogical to the capitalist power relation to the consumers of using body enhancing or fitness apps. The way Foucault has used the concept of understanding the power relation; it has become relevant to the contemporary society itself. The contemporary society is consumer based capitalist society. Here the power relation would be in between the consumers and capitalists. In this essay topic, the capitalists are the mobile application companies who constantly have produced their products to enhance the needs of the consumers.

The mobile application companies especially the body enhancing or fitness mobile applications have created the needs of the consumers to become beautiful. The consumers have fallen in the trap of the capitalism and these companies have profited from the created needs of the consumers. The mobile companies create these needs by launching different applications. The paper has discussed about the Foucault’s Panopticon concept and its relation in the modern society. The paper has also elaborated how the fitness or body enhancing apps force people in the society to moderate their bodies to reflect the socially constructed norms.

References

Allmer, Thomas. Towards a critical theory of surveillance in informational capitalism. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 2012.

Brunon-Ernst, M.A. ed., 2013. Beyond foucault: new perspectives on bentham's panopticon. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd..

Chia, Pern Hui, Yusuke Yamamoto, and N. Asokan. "Is this app safe?: a large scale study on application permissions and risk signals." In Proceedings of the 21st international conference on World Wide Web, pp. 311-320. ACM, 2012.

Leclercq-Vandelannoitte, Aurélie, Henri Isaac, and Michel Kalika. "Mobile information systems and organisational control: beyond the panopticon metaphor?." European Journal of Information Systems 23, no. 5 (2014): 543-557.

Seele, Peter. "The Sustainability panopticon in the digital age." Ethics Commun Law Center Work Pap 15, no. 1 (2015): 1-13.

Sheridan, C., 2016. Foucault, Power and the Modern Panopticon.

Steadman, Philip. "Samuel Bentham's Panopticon." Journal of Bentham Studies 14, no. 1 (2012): 1-30.

Vatrapu, Rai. "Understanding social business." In Emerging Dimensions of Technology Management, pp. 147-158. Springer India, 2013.

[1]Sheridan, C., 2016. Foucault, Power and the Modern Panopticon.

[2] Chia, Pern Hui, Yusuke Yamamoto, and N. Asokan. "Is this app safe?: a large scale study on application permissions and risk signals." In Proceedings of the 21st international conference on World Wide Web, pp. 311-320. ACM, 2012.

[3] Steadman, Philip. "Samuel Bentham's Panopticon." Journal of Bentham Studies 14, no. 1 (2012): 1-30 

[4] Brunon-Ernst, M.A. ed., 2013. Beyond foucault: new perspectives on bentham's panopticon. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd..

[5] Vatrapu, Ravi. "Understanding social business." In Emerging Dimensions of Technology Management, pp. 147-158. Springer India, 2013.

[6] Leclercq-Vandelannoitte, Aurélie, Henri Isaac, and Michel Kalika. "Mobile information systems and organisational control: beyond the panopticon metaphor?." European Journal of Information Systems 23, no. 5 (2014): 543-557.

[7] Allmer, Thomas. Towards a critical theory of surveillance in informational capitalism. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 2012.

[8] Seele, Peter. "The Sustainability panopticon in the digital age." Ethics Commun Law Center Work Pap 15, no. 1 (2015): 1-13.

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