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Gaze Theory

Gaze theory offers analysts ways to interpret the relationships, whether overt or implied, between the observer and the observed. Intellectuals from Jean-Paul Sartre to Jacques Lacan have explored the phenomenon at the center of gaze theory: the relationships inherent between those who watch and those who, in turn, are watched. This acute awareness of the dynamic between the viewing subject and viewing object, sometimes characterized as the look, underlies most gaze theory. For the most part, gaze theorists raise questions about the negative impacts—where intentional or not—of the spectator’s presence.

On one level, gaze theory attends to the pervasive influence of viewers on human psychology and awareness. How does the fact that one may be observed alter one’s sense of self, one’s behavior, and one’s ...

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