Seminar 1 – 15/10/2013 – Institutional power

by am109145

After the COP lecture on Friday on Institutional power our first seminar back as apart of year 2 was based around debating the concept of institutional power and Panopticism. To demonstrate the idea of socially conforming Nick decided to conduct a experiment at the beginning of the session, the experiment being placing a list of names next to a set of chairs and seeing if we as the group conformed to sitting where our name had been place. Of course as we walked into the room the experiment was successful and the demonstration of social conformity through internalisation was evident.

Once discussing the lecture itself and the main ideas of panopticism after the 1600 and life before the 1600 we were then further split in half as a group. One half of the group were asked to create argument and disagree that this idea of being watched by cameras, sitting exams, socially conforming i.e. the idea of institutional power being placed upon us was negative and the other half of the group (which I was in) were asked to support institutional power.


-Less crime on the street and the preventing of antisocial behaviour is minimised.

– More productivity, people are more active thus achieving more.

– Distinguishing right from wrong is obvious, people know to keep morality in place.

– Everybody gets treated with equality.

– Maintains order and levels of respect.

– Gives people a numerical value, there is room to improve and better themselves, thus encouraging achievement and self fulfilment.

– It makes people more respectful to other people of a higher status, increases respect for other and respect within society thus fulfilling ‘treat others how you would like to be treated’.

= Restricts unwanted and unpleasant behaviour.


– It draws out the people that are different an exclusion and depreviation of freedom.

– Going through exams and being tested almost makes you jump through hoops, it forces you to learn certain things which essentially is negative as it holds you back from learning what you enjoy to learn.

– If people were happier there would be less crime, institutional control restricts/ puts a boundary on happiness thus increases the rate of crime.

After generating ideas within our groups we were then asked to debate the matter, it became apparent that most people disagreed with institutional power. I personally disagree with institutional power however I understand the concept of why it s put in place, so to a certain extent my opinions lye within the middle of the two arguments, both arguments have pro’s and con’s, without institutional control society would not be in order however on the other hand we shouldn’t feel as if we are being watched or tested by a ‘governing body’ each argument is in essence correct in its own right.