Synopticon, The

In his seminal Discipline and Punish, Michel Foucault spoke of the panopticon and its implications for totalizing power and behavioral modification. The panopticon, itself a structure theorized in the 18th century by British architect and legal reformer Jeremy Bentham, comprised an institutional structure that allowed for a single unseen watchman to observe the behavior of inmates who, in turn, could not know whether or not they were being watched. As Foucault argued, the logic of such a contraption is to make prisoners aware of their complete subjugation to surveillance and therefore regulate their behavior accordingly. Despite being conceived for prisoners, in modern society, the effects of the panopticon can be observed in everyday life, where virtually every public space—from train stations and airports to supermarkets ...

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