The Relationship Between Power and Space

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Definition of power, which can simply be defined as, the capacity to make others do what you would have them do. Or what Foucault believes that power is not just a negative, coercive or repressive thing that forces us to do things against our wishes, but can also be a necessary, productive and positive force in society”

Yet Power is refrained to be talked about .it can sound scary and perhaps evil, by some. We feel uncomfortable naming it. In the culture and mythology of democracy, power resides with the people. Period. End of story. Any further inquisitiveness is not really welcomed. “Power has a negative moral valence. It sounds Machiavellian inherently. It seems inherently evil. But in fact power is no more inherently good or evil than fire or physics. It just is. And power governs how any form of government operates, whether a democracy or a dictatorship. And the problem we face today, here in America in particular, but all around the world, is that far too many people are profoundly illiterate in power “-Eric lui. Agreeing with Eric Lui’s idea, of power being harmless, at the same time the importance of having that knowledge and its repercussions are enormous. The basic questions about power that have been laid down by aforementioned writer are: what it is, who has it, how it operates, how it flows, what part of it is visible, what part of it is not, why some people have it, why that's compounded. And as a result of this illiteracy, those few who do understand how power operates in civic life, those who understand how a bill becomes a law as well as how a friendship becomes a subsidy, or how a bias becomes a policy, or how a slogan becomes a movement, the people who understand those things wield disproportionate influence i.e. power over others.

Therefore, it is so fundamental to grab hold of this idea of power and to democratize it. He further goes on to say that One of the things that is so profoundly exciting and challenging about this moment is that as a result of this power illiteracy that is so pervasive, there is a concentration of knowledge, of understanding, of is important as well as interesting to think about the above questions: How does a friendship become a subsidy? Seamlessly, how does a bias become a policy? How does a slogan become a movement? Virally, in the way that the Tea Party, for instance, was able to take the "Don't Tread on Me" flag from the American Revolution, or how, on the other side, a band of activists could take a magazine headline, "Occupy Wall Street," and turn that into a global meme and movement. All this happens because most people are ignorant or they avoid seeing these realities .parellely it could be a play of power too since power can

So much of this ignorance, this civic illiteracy, is willful. There are fad related to power .Some believe that the whole business is just squalid. They don't want to have anything to do with politics. They'd rather just opt out and engage in volunteerism. There are some techies out there who believe that the cure-all for any power imbalance or power abuse is simply more data, more transparency. There are some on the left who think power resides only with corporations, and some on the right who think power resides only with government, each side blinded by their selective beliefs. “There are the naive who believe that good things just happen and the cynical who believe that bad things just happen, the fortunate and unfortunate unlike who think that their lot is simply what they deserve rather than the eminently alterable result of a prior arrangement, an inherited allocation, of power.” (lui E.)

It is certain that the above is an explanation of fatalism in public life; today we have depressingly low levels of civic knowledge, civic engagement, participation, awareness.


“Power has its principle not so much in a person as in an certain concerted distribution of bodies, surfaces, lights , gaze: in an arrangement whose internal mechanism produce the relation in which individuals are caught up.“(Foucault M. 2008)

Bodies , surfaces ,lights and gaze : these are elements , when arranged and brought together ,form a space . In the above lines Foucault is emphasizing that space is a medium through which aforementioned “power “is felt, sensed and many a times it is executed and manifested through/in space. Therefore, more than a person power is sensed in a space created by the above mentioned element.

One of the most famous configurations of bodies, surfaces, light and gaze is the adaptation of Foucault’s idea of Jeremy Bentham’s PANOPTICON model. The panopticon model was an idea for a prison, where a cylindrical buildings, in which the inmates are invisible to one another, but are all visible to a guard station in the center of the building. Guards however will not always be observing each inmate to check they are behaving and following the rules. The point of the panopticon is that control is achieved through what Foucault calls 'disciplinary power', a form of power that is constant,unnoticeableand internalized. As inmates are not sure whether they are being watched at any one time, they must always abide by the rules. Control is thus achieved through self-surveillance as the fear of being caught breaking the rules keeps them in line with expectations. here architectural space along with gaze generates a situation of self-governance .

Though it was introduced as a prison model, Foucault saw panopticism as present in many institutions, not just the prison system. Institutions such as asylums, schools, military and secret services also adopt a panoptic way of disciplining,




The planning of the classes in such a way that there is no dead end, It leads us to talk about the circulation, placement of classrooms in the corridor where is it free flowing, it ensures that every classroom can be seen properly by simply walking past it. All the classrooms fell in extent of main circulation facilitating a constant observation.

The classrooms and the customization in the geometry of it, gave the power to the viewer .the knowledge og the fact that the students are devoid of the knowledge of who is viewing them and when they are viewing them generates a self-disciplinary environment.

This is kind of power relation between subject and object is generated due to the architecture of the school.

Schools, in a way do have their dimensions in areas where its principles can reflect those of the panopticon. For example, the idea of anonymous viewer, arrangement of cells (in this case class rooms) and placement of cells against the light.


In schools there is visual connection to the outside. With the greens .

In DPS, the corridors could too be futher looked at from the other floors . in this case creating a complete circle of self-governance


with constant surveillance acting to maintain control of those within them.The amount of monitoring that takes place in society today could class contemporary society that we live in today to be one of panopticism.

"A society in which individuals are increasingly caught up in systems of power in and through which visibility is a key means of social control" - Elliott, 2007:89

Therefore power relationship is housed in architectural spaces.

What constitutes national identity, power and space?

Benedict Anderson has exclaimed that nation ,nationality , nationalism have been notoriously difficult .oxford dictionary attempts to define these terms nation : Alargebody ofpeopleunitedbycommondescent,history,culture, or language,inhabitinga particularstate orterritory

nationality : Thestatusofbelongingto aparticularnation

Nationalism: Patrioticfeeling,principles, orefforts

Further, Nationalism is a concept that is inseparable from nation and nationality. Nationalism is a theory of political legitimacy. Where Political legitimacy is a virtue of political institutions and of the decisions—about laws, policies, and candidates for political office—made within them. Theorists believe that nationalism has brought about the existence of nations and not vice versa. Lawrence vale gives an example of a speaker at the first parliament session in Italy “we have made Italy, now we have to make Italians “he concludes by saying that it is not national identity is not a compulsory attribute following the statehood. But is a process that is carried out over years after a regime had gained political power.

How Anderson through his book says: it is race, the long past of our of our ancestors .the blood that runs inside us. The phenomenon, that this imagined community, in spite of the fact that no one will ever know everyone from this community. Whenever that is a crisis situation, they come closer to acknowledge that cause, to fight together, to die for the country. That is the strength h of national Identity. These struggles have an impact of various spheres, architecture being one. And one the most important ones because architecture itself symbolizes permanence, it is a representation of science, technology and advancement. Therefore India being an example for seeing evidences of efforts, where architecture was being seen as an analogous to the national identity. India for the first time united to fight for itself and stand for itself in the 20th century .She became independent in 1947, when another struggle was met. Struggle to define India’s new identity. According to Vikas Kaila, India faced 2 kinds of struggles in the 20th century. In the first half where British were trying to look for a kind of architecture style that represented their victory , their triumph , power and their authority which is supposed to demonstrate a good government but not necessarily a representative government.

According to Vikas Kaila in the Post world war 2 period: There were two opinions for the architecture of new India Like, for example , India in 1947 , when it got independence , there was an acute need for new construction and a search for new identity was prevailing . This was the situation of all the countries that had got freedom from the British raj. Seamlessly, in India, there were high expectations regarding the new architecture, as it was going to be the new face, the identity of the country. A style of architecture that can break from their past . By building new monuments that would symbolize freedom, democracy and promote popular public participation which would over shadow that negative past .the modern movement. Alongside, various struggles and quest for new identity in India, modernist movement was taking place in the west. Modernist movement had a universally acceptable message .the movement did not carry any cultural messages. The modernist movement was being seen as a solution to the problem of society. It was viewed as a democratic model, it said to bring democracy to all part of the world. This made its acceptance, by the aforementioned countries, easy. Largely, there were 2 characteristics of the modernist buildings that were democratic in nature, as discussed by Kaila in his lecture at AAARI by city university of New York.

First being, art must serve science and the second one. There was a tremendous dependency on technology .And industrial revolution had proved that, technology was very important for economic advancement of the nations. In the late 18th century and 9th century new materials were invented like steel concrete. After and during the world war II, there were a lot of refugees who had to be housed. The modern buildings, were cheap to produce, they were very geometric in their form and shape without ornamentation.

Modern architecture emphasized on clean air, abundant light and sun. These were requirements of the architecture, which no one could object. In developing countries like India in the post-independence period, with the problem of refugees, overcrowding in the cities .employment of modern architecture means u could house hundreds an d thousands of people, though nothing as objectionable, only that it required a push towards a greater science curriculum in schools and colleges, therefore Nehru, as the first prime minister, got the IIMs, IITs and NITs were constructed on the international modules of universities.

In spite of this, India was debating whether to take the historians’ way of defining new India or to go with the progressive thought. There was a conflict, and it was a never ending one. The historians were inclined towards celebrating India’s rich cultural past. They looked into recreating what was lost. They wanted to go back to classical period, the medieval period even to the Islamic period, to look for models and motifs that could define the new identity. . on the other hand there were visionaries like Nehru , they believed that it was unimportant to look into the past for the answerers to the future and the present . The attempts to build a modern India were done. Creation of Chandigarh was a result of Nehru’s vision for a free India. Swiss architect Le Corbusier was the man to deliver India’s dream.

“Democracy and socialism are means to an end, not the end itself.We talk of the good of society. Is this something apart from, and transcending, the good of the individuals composing it? If the individual is ignored and sacrificed for what is considered the good of the society, is that the right objective to have? It was agreed that the individual should not be sacrificed and indeed that real social progress will come only when opportunity is given to the individual to develop, provided "the individual" is not a selected group but comprises the whole community.The touchstone, therefore, should be how far any political orsocial theoryenables the individual to rise above his petty self and thus think in terms of the good of all. The law of life should not be competition or acquisitiveness but cooperation, the good of each contributing to the good of all.”

Nehru suggested combining of democracy and socialism , and a planned path for the advancement of India , he wanted to combine the garden city movement with the congested city from the knowledge of learnings from country had to be married .and a green city should be designed As mentioned in the London industrial revolution. He deduced that Town and aforementioned lecture by Kaila

“Democracy is good. I say this because other systems are worse.So we are forced to accept democracy. It has good points and also bad. But merely saying that democracy will solve all problems is utterly wrong. Problems are solved by intelligence and hard work”

The New York Times(15 January 1961), and inLifetime Speaker's Encyclopedia(1962) by Jacob Morton Braude, p. 173

To what Nehru had believed about democracy could be seen happening. Indian went through a rough patch on 1950s with the drought, war against Pakistan in 1965 and 1971 and with china in 1962. yet there was a tremendous faith in modern architecture .and gradually modernist moment could not cater to the bulk of people and high illiteracy rate . Modern movement is also a state of mind, modernity. There was a dislocation of modern movement and modernity, creating problems .modern construction was indigenized and therefor arose appreciation towards it. Further on, in 1970s Lui khan, who was on the cusp of modern and postmodern era , was stylizing modern architecture by picking up regional characteristics . This made the building more humane looking structures. Humanizing the, machine aesthetics of the modern architecture.

Though there were tenacious efforts that were being made by the leaders, the villages of India proved to be the final testing ground for implementation of any new idea. The acceptance to any change in the rural India came with either a lot of resistance or with ignorance. This was the strong effect of traditions of India that in a way shackled it from breaking into a glorious future.

Through the example of India, powerful role of architecture in an exercise of nation building can be witnessed.