How to Control People

The French philosopher Michel Foucault (1926-1984) argued that there are three ways to control people:
  1. hierarchical observation
  2. normalization
  3. the examination
That is, there are those in power who observe people. Foucault believed that simple observation was enough to control people. Take the security camera: just its presence alone is intended to maintain control. Normalization is simply having a standard of behavior and expectations. This is expressed and disseminated explicitly or implicitly. Finally, the examination is the effective combination of #1 and #2. The authorities inform the examined what is true, then elicit from the examined the same information within the standard. This effectively turns each person into a "case" that is observed, normalized, and periodically tested to ensure compliance. Although Foucault applied this to such institutions as schools, hospitals, prisons and factories, etc., every institution has to admit their participation in this. Even the church: it has its leaders and bureaucracy to observe the people; there is the normalization of belief and behavior within Christianity, denominations and especially within local churches; then there is the examination, which is usually the leader preaching what is expected from his or her own hermeneutical understanding of the standard, the bible, with the people's agreement being the expected result.

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