Panopticon, The

The panopticon is a physical building design and theoretical concept that allows a single individual to monitor an entire institution without the observed subjects being made aware of their observation. The idea of the panopticon presumes that if individuals—such as prisoners, students, workers, or citizens—understand that they may be under observation at any time, these individuals will act as though they are under examination; in other words, they will self-police. This presumption by the subject is essential, as physical ability prevents a single individual from observing a large group simultaneously; thus, the power of the panopticon is the projection of omnipresence, not its functional ability to surveil. This entry describes the specifics of the panopticon as conceptualized by the English philosopher Jeremy Bentham, as ...

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