At a shopping mall, there are hidden cameras. The reason why they exist is simple: to prevent shopliftings, or in some cases, to catch shoplifters. Most customers realize that they are being watched and try to act properly, though there are some who fail to recognize or decide to ignore this fact and take the wrong path. It is not just a shopping mall that has CCTV's to watch over people. In today's society, hidden cameras are everywhere for various reasons. Everybody may be being watched at any moment, at any place. The idea of observing others' behavior can be traced back to the 15th century, when the Black Death wiped entire Europe out. It was the greatest fear at that time, and everybody was trying to find a way to survive such a nightmare. Since everything had to be under control, militia were located everywhere in the contaminated villages, guarding the town hall to keep everything in order. Stricken with horror and fear, people were forced to be locked up in houses and be watched constantly.
As shown above, Foucault starts "Panopticism" with a talk on the plague. After the explanatory introduction, Foucault presents an analysis of the prison system created by a famous economist Betham, Panopticon. The set-up of the jail is the following: a watchtower, which is surrounded by the cells where prisoners are placed, stands in the middle with a window letting sunlight in. According to the construction of the prison, the sunlight shines directly upon the criminals' eyes. As a result, people in the cell recognize that they are being watched yet never really know exactly when. However, the transition from the introduction to the next section may throw readers off. Yet his intention is straightforward: to let people be more aware of the fact that they are being watched every day, everywhere, and that the rulers with power are always trying to discipline others to have them under control.
In the next part of the essay, Foucault points out three disciplinary mechanisms, the functional inversion of the disciplines as the first one.