Stateville, IL. Panopticon

The design of the panopticon creates in the prisoner the sense that they may be being watched at any moment. This encourages them to act as if they are being watched, even when they are not.

Is this what “peace” looks like? “Law”? “Justice”?

The Panopticon has been read by philosophers (such as Foucault) as a basic mode of power in contemporary societies. For Foucault, this architectural innovation signifies the way power is organized in modern societies. Today, with ongoing revelations about widespread surveillance, this thought seems to be ripe for re-consideration. Do you “police” yourself on the internet, not because you know someone is watching, but because you think someone might be watching? If not, can you imagine a situation in which you might have to?


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