Bentham’s panopticon penitentiary was a circular structure with one inner central tower, where the wardens could watch the prisoners without their knowledge and without being seen. CCTV shares similar elements to the panopticon penitentiary, with visual surveillance and centralised monitoring system, but the inmates are captive of an institution and are not able to move freely through city streets. Incarceration serves as a permanent and powerful reminder of their subjugation and the power of constant surveillance. Approximately between one third and two thirds of the population actually know they are being monitored by CCTV.
Under permanent threat of observation the incarcerated prisoners in panopticon penitentiaries automatically behave according to the prison rules and timetable, thus exemplifying the effectiveness of the ‘normalizing gaze.’ The normalizing gaze as theorised by Michel Foucault suggests that individuals self-regulate by examining them self in relationship to the crowd, and are pressured to comply with social norms and that the gaze is disciplinary. Foucault suggests that the panopticon is predominant throughout society and is the most effective way to control human behaviour. Although the panopticon is predominant throughout society individuals with deviant intentions may shift the time and place of their activities to fall outside of the camera’s gaze.
Has technology in all its different forms become the scapegoat for a society’s perception of violence? Society is focusing on technology as the cause and solutions for riots while the situation is more complex and unpredictable. Has technology become the sin or saviour of society? Through social media Twitter offered a social revolution to instigate change and bring the popular voice together. Or has social media become the “Twitter rioting mob” that has negative consequences for society? Alternatively the use of technology for the control of crowd violence has its critics, CCTV and facial recognition software can be seen as an excessive invasion of privacy while reformed offenders may experience being harassed. Also it is debatable if the quality of CCTV images is adequate to be admissible as evidence in a court of law.
Has violence and aggression in society become influenced by popular media and technology in western culture? There has been an intense scrutiny of bodybuilding by popular media which has suggested a link between anabolic steroids and increased levels of violence. Although there is little empirical supporting evidence that anabolic steroids increase levels of violence, popular media has persisted in publishing articles implying a strong connection. This perception may have led to increased acceptance of violence by young men who take low levels of anabolic steroids and abuse alcohol. The belief that anabolic steroids increase levels of violence may have begun to develop a self-fulfilling prophecy where violence is explained and tolerated within groups of anabolic steroid users. With increased media pressure to become highly muscled and lean young men may be experiencing a potentially explosive mix of peer pressure around anabolic steroid use, violence, and body image dissatisfaction.
Christopher Swane - Counselling and Psychotherapy For Men - Wellington New Zealand