Comparative Synthesis Essay Power is wielded in a variety of ways by a diverse group of people

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Comparative Synthesis Essay

Power is wielded in a variety of ways by a diverse group of people. Panopticons is a chapter in Michel Foucault’s novel “Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison” that describes how power functions in society. Furthermore, Michelle Alexander in The New Jim Crow, states the great nation is explored through the resurgence of a caste-like system that adversely impact People of colour. According to Michel Foucault and Michelle Alexander, the use of prisons allows those in power to maintain control over the citizens of society. Despite the fact that they both believe prisons are used for surveillance, their perspectives are diametrically opposed (Roberts). According to Foucault, prisons are used for racist undertones, whereas prisons are used for surveillance purposes, according to Alexander.

According to Foucault, the distribution and pervasiveness of power is more important than the episodic and sovereign acts of dominance and coercion that are typically used by individuals or groups to exert their authority. it’s not a structure because power is everywhere and can come from any source at any time (Foucault 1998: 63). The Panopticon, according to Foucault, examines three main components of the Foucauldian perception of power: totalizing power, visibility, individualizing, omnipresence and diffusion, and before reaching the conclusion with a brief explanation of whether the power ideal-type is included in Foucault’s panopticon. It’s clear that both writers demonstrate and utilize power in similar ways (Foucault). He explains in the Panopticons chapter how the panopticon, also known as a prison, can be used for any purpose.

The source of social power is people. The power of society is derived from people’s aspirations, energies, and capacities. Systematization of human potential creates social power when it is harnessed. For Foucault, the term “prisoner” is destined to be phased out in favor of this one. For the criminal justice system and human sciences, a delinquent is distinct from other forms of criminal activity. For a well-ordered social life, social control is necessary. Individuals must be regulated and patterned by society in order to maintain social norms. There is a risk of social disorder if there are no rules in place to keep people in line. “Historically possible” was the carceral network, with its social control mechanisms that normalized soul, individuality, consciousness, and conduct, because it invested analytically in the “knowable man.” Foucault uses the term “discipline” in the context of penal systems, where it is used to refer to punishment (Smart).

“Whatever use one may wish to put it to, the panopticon is a marvellous machine that produces homogeneous effects of power,” Foucault writes (Foucault 233). We can see that whoever is in charge of the prison enjoys it, and that power has the same effects. The ability to use the panopticon in any way they wanted led to the installation of a surveillance system. Installation of a surveillance system was prompted by the ability to use the panopticon however they pleased. Alexander disagrees with Foucault’s belief that the person in charge of the prison has complete control over it (Forman). Among other things, she discusses how wealthy people use their wealth to fund prisons that meet their standards in her book, The New Jim Crow. Dick Cheney, former Vice President of the United States, and other wealthy and powerful individuals have made investments in privately owned correctional facilities (Alexander 230). With each new prisoner, wealthy and powerful people invest money in private prisons in order to expand the market and gain power.Investing in prisons gives you automatic control over a large number of people. Prisons, both authors agree, are a source of power that can be seized and used in any way the author sees fit.

The way these authors interact with one another suggests that they both have a similar interest in experimenting on men. Foucault discusses how a prison is a place where procedures on men are acceptable, as is witnessing whether they have changed, in his chapter. ” The Panopticon is an excellent location for comparing the experimental results on men and analyzing the transitions that are certain to occur,” Foucault says (Foucault 235). The prison may subject men to certain types of tests to determine whether or not they have been affected by it, according to this provision. The panopticon can even track its own processes when it comes to putting men to the test. You can do this if you’re in the central tower. You can spy on all employees and prisoners from the central tower, which leads to Foucault’s belief in the use of prisons. Alexander, like Foucault, supports the use of male subjects in experiments. Returning to the novel, she discusses how segregation is a test for men and how men change when they return to poor communities. Alexander writes, “However, prisons are not the only means of racial segregation.” The annual influx of ghetto inmates also contributes to and perpetuates segregation” (Alexander 195). She explains that racial segregation is caused by more than just prisons, and that the annual influx of inmates returning to ghetto communities both causes and perpetuates segregation. Mass incarceration is an alternative to transporting African Americans across town or incarcerating them in ghettos. People of color are being kept apart from the rest of society by barricades and walls, creating an unprecedented level of segregation in the United States. As a result, inmates, mostly African Americans, are quickly demoted to second-class status, contributing to the program’s ineffectiveness in changing men. Prisons subject men to experiments that cause them to change, according to both authors.

The authors differ in some ways, despite their similarities. Alexander believes prisons are used for laundering money whereas prisons are used for learning surveillance, according to Foucault’s Panopticism. Near the end of his chapter, Foucault discusses how a prison can be used for surveillance (Caluya). “Furthermore, we have seen that anyone can come to the central tower and exercise surveillance functions, and that in this case, he can gain a clear idea of how surveillance is practiced,” Foucault writes (Foucault 237). To put it another way, he explains how anyone in the central tower can perform supervisory functions and observe how surveillance is conducted. All of this leads back to his main point about prison use. On the other hand, Alexander believes that prisons should be used to increase access to money. She discusses the importance of jails in the United States. “Investment from the private sector should also be considered,” Alexander adds. Prisons are big business in the United States, and they’ve become deeply ingrained in the country’s economic and political systems” (Alexander 230). She agrees with us that private-sector investment must be recognized because it is not directly controlled by the government. Jails are large businesses with deep roots in the United States’ political and economic systems. Investing in prisons demonstrates that those with a lot of money use prisons to get more. As we can see, both authors have opposing viewpoints on prisons.

Another distinction between these two authors is that Foucault wrote about lepers, people who are shunned or rejected by others for moral or social reasons, whereas Alexander wrote about African-American men. Lepers are socially isolated, according to Foucault, because they are seen as plague victims who will benefit from the spread of the black death. Foucault argues that the leper was subjected to a practice of exile-enclosure, where he was left to face the consequences. The leper and his divisions, as well as the plague and its divisions. The exile of the leper and the abolition of the plague do not share the same political aspirations (Foucault 228). He describes how lepers were abandoned to die in a world of exclusion and confinement, as well as how the plague cut him off from society. There is no social illusion in the exile of the leper and the confinement of the plague. Alexander claims that while lepers are separated due to the black death, black men are separated due to racial undertones (Moore). Racial undertones are applied to people of color, and they suffer as a result. In Alexander’s view, the system of mass incarceration sweeps people of color off the streets with stunning efficiency when one takes a step back from individual cases and policies (Alexander 103). When African Americans are released from prison, the government and its agents will go to great lengths to re-arrest them. Once the system has swept them off the streets, people of color will be reintroduced into society as second-class citizens (Batchvarov). Inmates are segregated in prisons for a variety of reasons, according to both authors.

Even though they agree that prisons are used for surveillance, their perspectives on how they are used differ. According to Foucault, the use of prisons has racist overtones, whereas Alexander believes they are basically used for surveillance. Throughout each text, we can see how there are both similar and dissimilar points of view. The texts, I discovered, have a deeper meaning and reveal a more extreme truth about prisons. Prisons, both inside and outside, are unpredictable environments. Investing in them, conducting experiments on men, and even wielding whatever power they have over them are all options. Should new techniques be used in prisons, and if so, which ones should be used?

Work cited

Caluya, Gilbert. “The post-panoptic society? Reassessing Foucault in surveillance studies.” Social Identities 16.5 (2010): 621-633.

Batchvarov, Dimitra. ““Racial Opportunism”: The Role of the Constitution in Society’s Manifestation of a New Racial Caste System by Way of the Prison Industrial Complex.” (2021).

Foucault, Michel. “Intellectuals and power.” Language, counter-memory, practice. Cornell University Press, 2021. 205-217.

Forman Jr, James. “Racial critiques of mass incarceration: Beyond the new Jim Crow.” NYUL Rev. 87 (2012): 21.

Moore, Ryan. An analysis of Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow: Mass incarceration in the age of colorblindness. Macat Library, 2017.

Roberts, Dorothy E. “Prison, foster care, and the systemic punishment of black mothers.” Ucla L. Rev. 59 (2011): 1474.

Smart, Barry. “Michel Foucault-Revised Edition.” (2002).