Literally, surveillance means to watch over and as such it is an everyday practice in which human beings engage routinely, often unthinkingly. Parents watch over children, employers watch over workers, police watch over neighborhoods, guards watch over prisoners and so on. In most instances, however, surveillance has more specific usage referring to some focused and purposive attention to objects, data, or persons. After observing the middle school I am currently employed at I’ve come to notice a vast amount of surveillance that goes on within a school.In, Michel Foucault ' Panopticism' in The Surveillance Studies Reader he stated that, “the productive increase of power can be assured only if…it can be exercised continuously in the very foundation of society.
” (Foucault, 72) I chose to observe in particular the hallways of my job as young children walk to their classes during passing period to go to their next class. This particular space contains countless lockers painted with youthful decorations. Along with this are dividers like lanes, which teach the children their right to life a form of guidance.The uniqueness about these hallways are the size of the hallways there very wide, also there are visible classroom doors and bright lights making everything visible to the eye.
As stated before the floor is divided as a sense of guidance but this isn’t the only type of signage that gives direction. There’s also wall mounted plates at each turning point with numerical labeling and arrows pointed in a specific directions informing children, adults, and visitors where to go. As far as sound goes its filled with young voices chatting about sports, girls, boys, homework, teachers, what to do after school.After observing this for two days at two different times it was quiet evident that there is a lot of surveillance going on within small increments of time. In observing the school the purpose of certain surveillance technologies being used here are, human activist, and on campus law enforcement.
The technologies that are being used here are cameras, badge scanners, photo ID’s. Certain technologies like the cameras are used outside the school, within each hallway, and front office.The badge scanners are used for entry into the school to avoid any outside disturbance that may present itself as danger to the students or faculty. Plus the photo ID’s which each student has in order to confirm that they are a student that attends this middle school.
In accordance to Parenti section ‘Visions of Public Order’ “this helped construct “insider” and “outsider” identities,” like I stated before which makes this quiet relevant. (Parenti, pg. 4) Reason being were able to take what was once used back before our time and re-use today in are public areas.This goes to show that photograph is a very powerful tool which we use daily. Sitting and observing students’ wearing their school ID makes it clear that they can only have one identity.
This also gives a sense of organizing students from one another, rank by class, name, and year of departure to high school. As well as faculty which also have to wear photo IDs for quiet the same reasons along with accessing the ability to get into the building itself. All in all photograph like Parenti says, “seeks to know and fix as fact “the truth” with photo IDs for teachers and students theirs no hiding your identity.This goes to show the realism of photograph united effortlessly with “criminal justice at both practical and ideological level. ” (Parenti) This goes to show states power among social groups and individuals within particular schools.
It’s clear that this is a type of location that displays, the “distribution of individuals in relation to one another, of hierarchical organization, of disposition of centres and channels of power, which can be implemented in schools. ” (Foucault, 72) This gives the idea of supremacy amongst the teachers to students during passing period and within the classroom.I was able to see the enforcement of power the teacher has on the student by giving instruction and the student doing so. In relation to panopticism “whenever one is dealing with a multiplicity of individuals on whom a task or particular form of behavior must be imposed,” the schooling system fits this idea very well when observing the relation between teachers to student. (Foucault, 72) In addition to this, social norms are group-held beliefs about how members should behave in a given context.
In the hallways it’s clear that there are certain groups of kids that stay together. The school keeps each grade level separated by designating them to their own hall. At times there could be some resistance from the kids by hiding belongings in their backpacks. Surveillance is always challenged because students tend to get around the system by doing things in areas like the bathroom, locker room, or the classroom these primary places are used for the simple fact that there aren’t any cameras no ability to see.
This relates to John Fiske’s statement that surveillance “is a way of imposing norms” where “those who have been othered into the ‘abnormal’ have [surveillance] focused more intensely upon them. ” (Browne, 73) Due to their race and how they are band together, race then “must be understood as operating in an interlocking fashion with class, gender, sexuality, location and other markers of identity. ” (Brown, 73) Supporting this notion of ‘racializing surveillance’ where surveillance carries out, policies and routines concerning the assembly of norms concerning race.In conclusion, we experience surveillance everyday no matter how we may feel about the general topic of being watched.
As I stated back at the beginning of my essay human beings engage routinely, often carelessly in surveillance. It’s an everyday practice because it’s something we don’t notice take place as often as we think. I’ve identified how evident my claim is by such practices the school system uses to keep a watch out for its students and its faculty with evidence from readings that then support these observations.