Need a unique essay?
Order now

Berger's and Foucault's Theories of Power

3 pages
766 words
Harvey Mudd College
Type of paper: 
This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

Bergers argues that the elite control the masses because they have power to manipulate most decisions in the society. When the elite are in power the masses reminiscent and nostalgic of the time when the elite were in complete power. The elite are influential and according to Berger their power comes from hoarding paintings and lying to the people. Berger deliberates that this confusion happens because the art historians and ruling elite deny the people of history which belongs to them by hoarding paintings, and this leads to people being unable to position themselves in history and thus they are mystified by it.

Berger also speaks about the false religiosity of the original pieces of art and how it adds to the masses being mystified by the art of the past. This happens because most of the media pieces have a huge market value and therefore people try to preserve it even if they have never met it before. When it they come to interpretation, the elite misleads the minority by explaining false in interpretation of the piece and this makes the common people inability to obtain the essence of art. He does not openly state it, however, it is clear that Berger thinks that this false religiosity is an approach used by the ruling elite to confuse the people and they retain their power. The elite remain powerful because they continue limiting access too perspectives and information to Bergers essay in order to escape the power have a tendency to to escape control by authority. Berger would definitely also condone these things as a way to free oneself from the ruling elite and develop an independent perspective. Foucaults theory of power is a bit different from Bergers. His essay observes and analyzes the panoptic system. A panopticon is a kind of building originally designed by Jeremy Bentham as a prison. A dominant tower has visual access to a ring of cells which surround it. The person in the tower can see the people of the cell, but those inhabitants cannot see into the tower. Thus the inhabitants must assume that they are constantly under surveillance (Foucault 200) Part of his analysis concerns the element of power in the panoptic system, and this is a very intriguing topic. The person in the tower can see the inhabitants of the cell, but those inhabitants cannot see into the tower. Foucault uses the prison, school, workplace, hospital, and mental institutions as examples of panoptic systems in his essay because they all are characterized by a select number of people (maybe even one), supervising a large population. One could argue that the power wielder in the panoptic system is the individual who is watching the subjects s/he is responsible over, whether it be the prison warden, teacher, doctor, or manager of a workplace. The panoptic system is an intriguing system, not simply because it allows an individual to have rule over a large population, but because it ensures organization and productivity within its system. In a panoptic prison, the prisoner cannot see the prison warden because of security measures such as one-way glass or Venetian blinds. But because the prisoner knows that s/he could be being observed at any given moment, s/he is more likely to be well behaved. This uncertainty by the prisoner brings up an interesting As long as the prisoners cannot tell whether or not they are being watched it can be assumed that they are going to act as if they are being watched, and if this is the case, then they are doing exactly what the panopticon purposes to do; provide order and organization: Hence the major effect of the panopticon: to induce in the patient a state of conscious and permanent visibility that assures the automatic functioning of power (Foucault 201). From this argument, it can be implied that in fact, no prison warden is really required to run a panoptic prison. This instance applies to the workplace also, because in the workplace, a worker is more likely to be creative and stay on task if he knows that the boss periodically walks by his work station to check up on his status. The connection between power and the panopticon is even more complex and interesting when one looks at it on the societal level. One could say that the panopticon is unceasing and self-supporting. In Foucault's eyes, the discipline-mechanism is a functional mechanism that must improve the exercise of power by making it more rapid,lighter more effective, a design of subtle coercion for a society to come. (209).


Have the same topic and dont`t know what to write?
We can write a custom paper on any topic you need.

Request Removal

If you are the original author of this essay and no longer wish to have it published on the website, please click below to request its removal: