As technology has advanced in the last few centuries, so has the extent to which we are under surveillance whether we are aware of it or not. Foucault suggests that we have entered into an era of a disciplinary society from around the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Exemplified by the invention of the panopticon, is the concept of discipline in which Foucault describes as, “a physics’ or an ‘anatomy’ of power, a technology,” (Foucault, 7). This transformation of the “physics” of power to a more effective method of social control is what has persisted throughout the last few centuries with more advanced technological instruments to administer it.
A modern example of this new concept of discipline that has recently been used is a program called Proctorio. Proctorio is a test proctoring program used by schools to prevent students from being able to cheat on exams that are taken online. It works by recording the student during the exam and flagging any suspicious behavior. This can include looking away from the screen or any movement by the student or in their background. The flagged parts are then reviewed by the teacher to determine if it looks like cheating. This employs a very similar power over the student as the panopticon. By surveilling the student during the whole exam there is an internalized discipline within the student that controls them, with no one in the room but themselves.
Power in the form of discipline in the way Foucault describes makes it a technology that can be used subtly through social norms that are internalized by society so that people police themselves. This allows the people in power to control the behavior of people in the society without the use of force or violence while simultaneously giving the illusion of freedom and individuality. However, as instruments such as Proctorio are normalized, the society becomes increasingly under the constant surveillance of the higher power.
FOUCAULT, MICHEL. “Panopticism.” In DISCIPLINE AND PUNISH: the Birth of the Prison. Editions Gallimard, 1975.