Spectacle and Surveillance Essay Sample

Spectacle and Surveillance

Q1 In the modern conditions, our societies’ production of life have resulted in adverse collection of spectacles of which everything that has existed receded into a representation. In the process, every distinct aspect of life has been separated and merged in a common aspect of life of which the regroup of that particular life can no longer be recaptured. As a result, the spectacle that presents a society and modes of unification has become the visionary aspect of society’s focal point that organizes the principles of society, economy, polity, and every individual’s life. Michael Foucault and Douglas Keller offer various account on the role of spectacle in producing political power.

In Foucault’s account, spectacle of society plays a significant role in the production of political power. This is based on the fact that, spectacle as it stands establishes a disciplinary society whose composition in terms of population organization is timely related to the formation of political power. Additionally, this disciplinary society is developed in a manner that ensures the corresponding concept of human subject is based on the social and political characteristics of that particular subject. To better understand spectacle contribution to political power, Foucault introduces torture and its disappearance as a public spectacle.

Foucault believes that torture as a public spectacle should have been used as a means of uniting the whole society as one body and more so to place the sovereignty as an intrinsic figure in the body. However, this is not true as this particular spectacle was only established before the public not to warn people of the consequences of violating sovereignty law and justify punishment. Rather, this public execution was not to re-establish justice but only to reactivate power. It is therefore a tool used as terror by leaders and monarchies in illustrating their physical and political superiority over ordinary people. Moreover, transformation of such a spectacle resulted into political danger as the distribution of public power was only calculated on the basis of power to push. Therefore, the establishment of a disciplinary society due to the execution of spectacle of punishment is only used in producing political power rather than enhancing justice.

Similarly, Kellner’s account on media spectacle establishes a culture that is organized on the principles of political production. While spectacle is deployed through internet-based economy in order to promote, reproduce, and circulate products, it results into a culture that profits few in the expense of others. Through the use of more sophisticated spectacles via media, the media industries increase their power and profit by seizing the general public of their rights. Likewise, media spectacle tends to reshape the political and social life of people as Kellner observes. By this, it means that, media has continuously displayed off social and political conflicts on its screen such as political sex scandals, terrorist activities, and even more sensational murder incidents. In so doing, these spectacles have expanded on people’s daily lives activities especially by organizing them in a particular spectacle of society with political interest. In this regard, media spectacle has played a similar role as that of torture in producing political power.

Q2 On the other hand, modern theories of surveillance differ from their postmodern theories counterparts. In Foucault’s account, one of the main differences between modern and postmodern surveillance theory is in the development of the theory. Unlike modern surveillance theories, the postmodern surveillance theories are developed on the basis of the “Subject”. This subject describes how an individual is influenced to become what he or she is. In so doing, the postmodern surveillance theories were used in exploring the problems arising from the subject power and knowledge. Therefore, from Foucault theorization, postmodern surveillance theories have disciplinary objective unlike the modern counterparts.

In postmodernism, actually, there is no absolute truth or reason. It is this that forms the basis of postmodern surveillance theories as strives are taken in deconstructing the social, cultural, and human difference evident within a disciplinary society. The strength of these theories is that they observe and educate real people on how they can encounter world within their diversity in identities and subjective. However, there weakness is that they offer no universal or absolute understanding on how many realities are there within a disciplinary society. This means that everything is not socially and politically constructed thereby leaving gaps in the understanding of spectacle and political power.

On the other hand, Anthony Gidder presents the capitalistic nature of modern surveillance theories that makes them different from the postmodern surveillance theories. As a result, modern surveillance theories normally understand surveillance as an ultimate outgrowth of capitalism, bureaucratic organization, and development of unified society that is less trustworthy. This is contrary to the postmodern surveillance theories which primary deals with the new forms of vigilance and visibility. The strength of this characteristic is that, by the model of total surveillance, a society can be gauged in a given setting that helps in the reconstruction of political and moral consciousness. While this fact is attributed to postmodern surveillance theory, it does form an essential part of modern surveillance theory.

However, by establishing totalitarianism, the modern surveillance theory is more of total surveillance but less of trustworthy; it makes it difficult for any member of a society in understanding the means rather than the ends of the cultural orientation. It is from this that postmodern surveillance theorists have pointed out the possibility of using such theories unlike the modern surveillance theories in trying to move beyond the exploitation level established by various spectacles.

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In conclusion, it is important for the society to understand the means and objectivity for which a society is being regrouped in a particular manner by spectacles. This can only be achieved, if theorists come up with appropriate surveillance theories that educates and align people in a particular form so as to address the changing societal settings.

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