© Stephen Clarke 2013
This paper deals with the issue of surveillance as it applies to recent technological advancements. Specifically, advancements in video capturing and social media have made public events into spectacles that are observed and shared online by the public. Public protest and discourse loosens itself from the bounds of state authority and enters the arena of the public. This phenomenon reconsiders Foucault’s conception of the panopticon. Foucault’s panopticon is useful as a tool for understanding the way power operates through surveillance in a state-to-public direction, but technological advancements have allowed for a reversal of this surveillance. With real examples like the pepper spraying of student protesters at UC Davis, the public now has surveillance over the state (in this example police officers) from its multitude of citizen perspectives that can be shared and disseminated online. This is an important development because it increases the autonomy and safe power of individuals who wish to speak out against excessive use of power by the state over the public. People can do so without fear of greater police suppression of real events. Issues with this development are discussed, like the chance for the state, or other sites of power (like corporations) to develop the copyrighting of public pace, making any event the property of power structures. This would be a problem, as it would lessen the autonomy of individuals in public spaces.
Clarke, Stephen (2013) "The Panopticon of the Public Protest: Technology and Surveillance," Res Cogitans: Vol. 4: Iss. 1, Article 22. http://dx.doi.org/10.7710/2155-4838.1090