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Panopticon

  • By: Hilary Hungerford
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

The panopticon was a prison model developed by the English social theorist and philosopher Jeremy Bentham in the late 1780s and has, subsequently, been implemented in prison design and construction around the world. The panopticon's design was such that everything (pan) could be seen and observed (opticon) at any time. Panopticism as a social theory emerged in the 1970s as a way of theorizing relationships between power, surveillance, and society. Highly influenced by Michel Foucault's famous book Discipline and Punish, panopticism contends that surveillance and power are intimately intertwined and manifest through particular procedures and apparatuses connected to technological inventions. Panopticism holds that these procedures, apparatuses, and technologies ultimately serve to discipline society, eliminating obfuscation through observation.

Bentham's Panopticon

Bentham is most famous for the development of ...

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