Theorizing Surveillance: The Panopticon and Beyond

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9781843921912: Theorizing Surveillance: The Panopticon and Beyond

Jeremy Bentham’s panopticon was a revolutionary prison designed for its inmates to be observed by a central (but himself unseen) observer—a post for which the eminent philosopher, who hoped to reform as well as incarcerate prisoners, volunteered his own services—and the panopticon remains the central image of the expanding and indeed exploding subject of surveillance studies. Closed circuit television coverage makes us all subject to the gaze of the unseen observer, and the computers and mobile telephones at our disposal create further possibilities for surveillance.Should those possibilities be ignored, resisted, or analyzed and assessed in terms of their full implications? First, they to be made evident;and that is what this volume helps to do. David Lyon, a Canadian academic who has written widely on the implications of the development of the ‘surveillance society’, points to a conundrum:‘the more stringent and rigorous the panoptic regime, the more it generates active resistance, whereas the more soft and subtle the panoptic strategies, the more it produces the desired docile bodies.’This book considers a range of panoptic and post-panoptic devices, ranging from the maximum security prison to the self-imposed surveillance of ‘continuing professional development’ in the medical profession, in order to explore the implications of the surveillance society in greater depth.The result of an academic conference in Canada, it brings together an extraordinary range of ideas and is an absorbing if not an easy read. Peter Villiers

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First published in 2006. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa company.

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