Sociological Theoretical Explanation – Michel Foucault’s Governmentality:
A society and its government can enter into a social contract about how much monitoring a should people allow in their everyday lives. If the intent of the surveillance is for the protection of people’s lives and property, usually that may be allowed, and even codified in to law. An example of such a social contract is the Patriot Act of 2002, which was enacted after the September 11, 2001 attack on the United States of America. Even some of the most ardent
Postmodernist sociologist recognize that the government can be the most pervasive agent of monitoring and surveillance of its own people. This surveillance, or gaze, may not always be for a social good. Michel Foucault, a postmodernist theorist proposed the governmentality theory. Governmentality can be defined as the creeping monitoring of a society’s government, in a subtle way, so that it has the “propensity to invade even the “soul” of the people controlled by it” (Ritzer, 2017, pg. xx).
Foucault further gives the example to a panopticon to demonstrate how creeping governmentality finds it way in the average American’s life. Foucault’s panopticon can be visualized a circular watch tower in a prison complex. The watch the guards can surveil all the cells and their occupants, because the structure of the cell windows. Some may argue that we now live in a post-panopticon society characterized by much lighter forms of surveillance (for example, of our communications over the Internet) (Ritzer, 2017). Public opinion in the United States for example seems to be divided on whether the 2002 Patriot Act was excessive monitoring or socially acceptable protection from a government. The premise is that we now live in a post-panopticon society characterized by much lighter forms of surveillance (for example, of our communications over the Internet) (Ritzer, 2017). Surveillance can occur remotely because of the power of the internet.