Metacritique on Bentham and Foucault’s Panoptic Theories as Analytic Tools for Three Modes of Digital Surveillance
Type of Article: Early View Authors: Parreno, June Benedict Demeterio III, Feorillo A. APA Reference Entry:
Demeterio III, F. P. A. & Parreno, J. B. (2021). Metacritique on Bentham and Foucault’s panoptic theories as analytic tools for three modes of digital surveillance. Plaridel. Advance online publication. http://www.plarideljournal.org/article/metacritique-on-bentham-and-foucaults-panoptic-theories-as-analytic-tools-for-three-modes-of-digital-surveillance/Digital SurveillanceE-Commerce SurveillanceJeremy BenthamMichel FoucaultPanopticonSocial Media SurveillanceState Digital Surveillance
The panopticon was originally a prison design made by Bentham in the late 18th century to efficiently reform offenders. Foucault appropriated Bentham’s panopticon in the late 20th century to conceptualize and critique the society and state’s coercive practices in making individuals conform to social and state norms. Although Foucault’s appropriation of Bentham’s panopticon was done prior to the full emergence of the digital age, a number of present day scholars use the panopticon in conceptualizing and critiquing digital surveillance. This paper problematizes the applicability of both Bentham and Foucault’s panoptic theories to such contemporary phenomenon. This paper dissected both panoptic theories into five components—subjects; observers; data gathering, storage, and analysis; goals and effects of the systems; and management of the systems—and compared and contrasted these to their corresponding components from three cases of digital surveillance representing state digital surveillance, social media digital surveillance, and e-commerce digital surveillance. This paper established that Bentham and Foucault’s panoptic theories have moderate resemblance to each other; that both Bentham and Foucault’s panoptic theories are applicable to the conceptualization and critique of state digital surveillance; and that both Bentham and Foucault’s panoptic theories are not applicable to the conceptualization and critique of social media and e-commerce digital surveillances. As a metacritique this paper is significant in the sense that its findings will hopefully enlighten other scholars about the actual levels of usefulness of both panoptic theories in conceptualizing and critiquing different modes of digital surveillance.