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Definition Of:

panopticon

Literature DictionaryDictionary of Postmodern Terms
The method of surveillance in the modern prison - this is the method that the modern state uses to execute and regulate its control of society. Unlike the monarchical state, which uses brute force to control its subjects, the 'democratic' state requires internalized and sophisticated coercion to perform this function.  The term "panopticon" was a name suggested by Jeremy Bentham (Betham, 1995).  In a prison built with modern archetecture that allows guards to see continuously inside each cell, the "panopticon" is the central observing tower even though the prisoners cannot see that they are being observed.  This constant gaze controls the prisoners affecting not only what they do but how they see themselves.  and replaced the use of a dungeon and dark cell to control the prisoner (1979a, 170).  This image serves as a metaphor for the power in of governmentality in the modern state.

 

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