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View Diary: The Surveillance State As Foucault's Panopticon (327 comments)

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  •  Yes, and if you don't mind further elaboration, (4+ / 0-)

    the Panopticon is a prison design where the cells were arranged around the outer perimeter of a yard.  In the center of the yard is a guard tower which allows an unfettered view into all of the cells.  Significantly, while the prisoners are visible to the tower at all times, the prisoners are not able to see into the guard tower.  Control of the prisoners comes not from violence, or obvious surveillance, but though the possibility of surveillance at any given time.  There is no way for the prisoner to know whether they are being watched, and so they act as if they are being watched at all times, and practice self-discipline.

    Bentham came up with the idea of the Panopticon in response to shortcomings in the "dungeon" model of prisons that were common at the time.  From the perspective of the State, the problem with dungeons is that while they physically separate prisoners from society, it does nothing to change the prisoner him or herself. Worse, it creates a kind of uncontrolled space where all kinds of plots can be hatched outside the view of the State, and the only way of disciplining prisoners in a dungeon is thought physical force, which is risky for guards and can lead to general uprisings.  Bentham's invention solves all these problems, and it does it by getting the prisoners to discipline themselves.

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    by sneakers563 on Wed Sep 11, 2013 at 09:33:59 AM PDT

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