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Panopticisim and the Social Institution of Religion: Personal Opinion

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Religion can be described as a social institution built up around the idea of a supernatural being or beings, and the relation of human beings to them. In addition, religion provides individuals a belief to which they understand their existence as well network of emotional support during times of distress. Moreover, religious institutions provide individuals a proper perspective of life and establish values. Religion involves three major aspects: A conception of the nature and character of divinity (2) A set of principles concerning the duties and obligations between divinity and humanity. (3) A set of behavior patterns designed to conform to God’s will (Thorman, 154). The theme of panopticisim is to assert and maintain power by being unseen. In Christianity, God, unable to be to seen, is a supernatural being with infinite power. In addition, the Holy Bible reaffirms this power and establishes accordance among civilians. The social institution of religion is a form of a panoptic system where individuals are compelled to act accordingly.
In Michel Foucault’s Discipline and Punish, he examines the role of the panopticon in the prison system in the eighteenth century. The panopticon was a method to maintain power and to ensure good conduct amongst prisoners. The panopticon is described as a central tower where one in power can oversee the surrounding area. Surrounding the center tower are cells containing prisoners. The inmates aren’t able to communicate with one another. Also, the prisoners are unable to distinguish whether it is a guard on duty watching their every move. The architectural design of the panopticon gives guards or those in power the upper hand. As a result of the prisoners being unable to determine whether someone ...

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...als to follow as set of given rules and guidelines by fear of punishment.

Works Cited

Thorman, Donald J. “The Sociological Concept of Religion” The American Catholic Sociological Review 12. 3 (1951): 154
Foucault, Michel. "Panopticism." Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. New York: Vintage, 1995. 195-228. Print.
Wisse, Marten. “The Meaning of the Authority of the Bible” Religious Studies 6.4 (2000): 476
Boodin, John E. “The Function of Religion”. The Biblical World 46. 2 (1915): 73-76
Aquinas, Thomas, and Richard J. Regan. The Power of God. New York: Oxford UP, 2012. Print.
Gollin, Gillian L. “Theories of the Good Society: Four Views on Religion and Social Change”. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 9.1(1970): 1-16
Lisenmayer, Mark. “Episode 49: Foucault on Power and Punishment.” The Partially Examined Life. 11 Jan. 2012. Web. 2 May 2014.
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