The Panopticon is a type of prison building designed by English architect Jeremy Bentham in 1785. The concept of the design is to allow an observer to observe ("-opticon") all ("pan-") prisoners without the prisoners being able to tell whether they are being watched, thereby conveying what one architect has called the "sentiment of an invisible omniscience." [Lang, Silke Berit. [ "The Impact of Video Systems on Architecture"] , dissertion, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, 2004.]

Bentham himself described the Panopticon as "a new mode of obtaining power of mind over mind, in a quantity hitherto without example." [Bentham, Jeremy. " [ Panopticon (Preface)] ". In Miran Bozovic (ed.), "The Panopticon Writings", London: Verso, 1995, 29-95.]

Conceptual history

:"Morals reformed — health preserved — industry invigorated — instruction diffused — public burthens lightened — Economy seated, as it were, upon a rock — the gordian knot of the poor-law not cut, but untied — all by a simple idea in Architecture!" [Jeremy Bentham. " [ Panopticon] ". In Miran Bozovic (ed.), "The Panopticon Writings", London: Verso, 1995, 29-95.]

Bentham derived the idea from the plan of a military school in Paris designed for easy supervision, itself conceived by his brother Samuel who arrived at it as a solution to the complexities involved in the handling of large numbers of men. Bentham supplemented this principle with the idea of "contract management"; that is, an administration by contract as opposed to trust, where the director would have a pecuniary interest in lowering the average rate of mortality. The Panopticon was intended to be cheaper than the prisons of his time, as it required fewer staff; "Allow me to construct a prison on this model," Bentham requested to a Committee for the Reform of Criminal Law, "I will be the gaoler. You will see ... that the gaoler will have no salary — will cost nothing to the nation." As the watchmen cannot be seen, they need not be on duty at all times, effectively leaving the watching to the watched. According to Bentham's design, the prisoners would also be used as menial labour walking on wheels to spin looms or run a water wheel. This would decrease the cost of the prison and give a possible source of income. [In Miran Bozovic (ed.), "The Panopticon Writings", London: Verso, 1995, 29-95.]

Bentham devoted a large part of his time and almost his whole fortune to promote the construction of a prison based on his scheme. After many years and innumerable political and financial difficulties, he eventually obtained a favourable sanction from Parliament for the purchase of a place to erect the prison, but in 1811 after Prime Minister Spencer Perceval (1809-1812) [ [ 10 Downing Street — Prime Ministers in History] ] refused to authorise the purchase of the land, the project was finally abandoned. In 1813, he was awarded a sum of £23,000 in compensation for his monetary loss which did little to alleviate Bentham's ensuing unhappiness.

While the design did not come to fruition during Bentham's time, it has been seen as an important development. For instance, the design was invoked by Michel Foucault (in "Discipline and Punish") as metaphor for modern "disciplinary" societies and its pervasive inclination to observe and normalise. Foucault proposes that not only prisons but all hierarchical structures like the army, the school, the hospital and the factory have evolved through history to resemble Bentham's Panopticon. The notoriety of the design today (although not its lasting influence in architectural realities) stems from Foucault's famous analysis of it.

Panoptic prison design

The architecture epigraph
quote = "incorporates a tower central to a circular building that is divided into cells, each cell extending the entire thickness of the building to allow inner and outer windows. The occupants of the cells are thus backlit, isolated from one another by walls, and subject to scrutiny both collectively and individually by an observer in the tower who remains unseen. Toward this end, Bentham envisioned not only venetian blinds on the tower observation ports but also maze-like connections among tower rooms to avoid glints of light or noise that might betray the presence of an observer"
cite = Ben and Marthalee Barton [Barton, Ben F., and Marthalee S. Barton. "Modes of Power in Technical and Professional Visuals." "Journal of Business and Technical Communication" 7.1, 1993, 138-62.]

The Panopticon is widely, but erroneously, believed to have influenced the design of Pentonville Prison in North London, Armagh Gaol in Northern Ireland , and Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia. These, however, were Victorian examples of the Separate system, which was more about prisoner isolation than prisoner surveillance; in fact, the separate system makes surveillance quite difficult. No true panopticons were built in Britain during Bentham's lifetime, and very few anywhere in the British Empire.

Many modern prisons built today are built in a "podular" design influenced by the Panopticon design, in intent and basic organization if not in exact form. As compared to traditional "cellblock" designs, in which rectangular buildings contain tiers of cells one atop the other in front of a walkway along which correctional officers patrol, modern prisons are often constructed with triangular or trapezoidal-shaped buildings known as "pods" or "modules". In these designs, cells are laid out in three or fewer tiers arrayed around an elevated central control station which affords a single correctional officer full view of all cells within either a 270° or 180° field of view (180° is usually considered a closer level of supervision). Control of cell doors, CCTV monitors, and communications are all conducted from the control station. The correctional officer, depending on the level of security, may be armed with nonlethal and lethal weapons to cover the pod as well. Increasingly, meals, laundry, commissary items and other goods and services are dispatched directly to the pods or individual cells. These design points, whatever their deliberate or incidental psychological and social effects, serve to maximize the number of prisoners that can be controlled and monitored by one individual, reducing staffing; as well as restricting prisoner movement as tightly as possible.

Panopticon-inspired prisons

* Allegheny County Courthouse and Jail - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
* Carabanchel PrisonMadrid, Spain
* Caseros PrisonBuenos Aires, Argentina
* Chi HoaHo Chi Minh City, Vietnam
* Huron Historic Gaol — Goderich, Ontario, Canada
* Kilmainham GaolDublin, Ireland
* Koepelgevangenis (Arnhem)Arnhem, The Netherlands
* Koepelgevangenis (Breda)Breda, The Netherlands
* Koepelgevangenis (Haarlem)Haarlem, The Netherlands
* Millbank PrisonLondon, United Kingdom
* Modelo PrisonBarcelona, Spain
* Mount Eden PrisonsAuckland, New Zealand
* Old ProvostGrahamstown, South Africa
* Panóptico — Bogotá Prison (today the National Museum of Colombia)
* Pelican Bay State PrisonDel Norte County, California, USA.
* Port Arthur, Tasmania Prison Colony — Port Arthur, Tasmania, Australia
* Presidio ModeloIsla de la Juventud‎, Cuba
* Round HouseFremantle, Western Australia, Australia
* Stateville Correctional CenterCrest Hill, Illinois, USA.
* Twin Towers Correctional FacilityLos Angeles, California, USA
*Insein PrisonInsein, Burma

Other panoptic structures

The Panopticon has been suggested as an "open" hospital architecture: "Hospitals required knowledge of contacts, contagions, proximity and crowding... at the same time to divide space and keep it open, assuring a surveillance which is both global and individualising", 1977 interview (preface to French edition of Jeremy Bentham's "Panopticon").Fact|date=February 2007

The Worcester State Hospital, constructed in the late 19th century, extensively employed panoptic structures to allow more efficient observation of the inmates. It was considered a model facility at the time.

The only industrial building ever to be built on the Panopticon principle was the Round Mill in Belper, Derbyshire, England. Constructed in 1811 it fell into disuse by the beginning of the twentieth century and was demolished in 1959. [Farmer, Adrian, Belper and Milford, Tempus Publishing, Stroud, Gloucestershire, 2004, 119.] Contemporary social critics often assert that technology has allowed for the deployment of panoptic structures invisibly throughout society. Surveillance by closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras in public spaces is an example of a technology that brings the gaze of a superior into the daily lives of the populace. Further, Middlesbrough, a town in the North of England, has put loudspeakers to the CCTV cameras. They can transmit the voice of a camera supervisor. [ [ Cameras Help Stop Crime] The Hoya, September 22 2006] [ [ 2006, But Has 1984 Finally Arrived?] Indymedia UK, 19 September 2006]

In popular culture

* Closed-circuit television is similar to the methods used in George Orwell's "Nineteen Eighty-Four" by the thought police to control the citizenry. At any moment, a person may or may not be being observed via a telescreen, though whether one is being watched at any given moment is unknown to that person.
* The popular film "Gilda" (1946) features a panopticon-style headquarters in the casino of Nazist crimelord Ballin Mundson (George Macready). This menacing office and control base allows Mundson to oversee his gambling empire, and also provides Johnny Farrell (Glenn Ford) with a means to keep a check on the activities of the film's eponymous "femme fatale" (Rita Hayworth).
* In the British TV science fiction series Doctor Who, the main room of the Capitol on Gallifrey (the Time Lords' home planet) was called the Panopticon, although it apparently did not have a panoptic design. (It may have been called that because events there were televised to the whole planet.)
* The 1993 science fiction film Fortress features a heavily panoptic multi-level structure, albeit wholly underground. Most of the control over the structure and the inmates is given to the prison's central computer in similar vein to above literature, with ultimate leverage still exercized by the half-cyborg prison director.
* In Gabriel Garcia Marquez's novella, "Chronicle of a Death Foretold", the Vicario brothers spend three years in the "panopticon of Riohacha" awaiting trial for the murder of Santiago Nasar.
* The 2004 sci-fi adventure The Chronicles of Riddick employs a similar underground structure, which is set deep within the recesses of a planetoid enduring extreme ground temperatures day and night.
* The 1998 video game Sanitarium features a mental asylum designed as Panopticon.
* In the 2004 video game , there is a prison that is seemingly based on the Panopticon design.
* The Asylum level of the game XIII contains a cell block that is organized in this manner.
* Post-metal band Isis's 2004 album "Panopticon" takes both its title and its central lyrical theme from the Panopticon design.
* In the video game there is a desolate area of countryside named 'The Panopticon'.
* In the television show LOST much of how the Others watched Jack Shepherd, James "Sawyer" Ford, and Kate Austen was very similar to the Panopticon. The character John Locke even takes the name of Jeremy Bentham in Season 4.
* John Twelve Hawks writes about panopticon as a model for society in his book The Traveler
* In her 2008 young adult novel "The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks," E. Lockhart has the protagonist talk about reading an excerpt from Michel Foucault's book "Discipline and Punish" in which he "uses the idea of the panopticon as a metaphor for Western society and its emphasis on normalization and observation" (Lockhart 2008, p. 54). She goes on to bring up the panopticon again throughout the course of the book.
* In the 2000 video game Deus Ex 'panopticon' is the password for a computer terminal that allows access to the fictional omniscient, media controlling AI Helios


The growth of panoptic monitoring technologies has provoked backlashes by privacy advocates. However, some observers argue that these technologies don't always favor the hierarchical structure outlined by Orwell, Bentham, and Foucault, but can also enable individuals, through inverse surveillance or sousveillance, to appropriate technological tools for individual or public purposes. Still others predict a balanced state of a universal "participatory panopticon" in which there is an equiveillance, or equilibrium of monitoring and control structures between parties.


See also

* "Discipline and Punish" by Michel Foucault
* Big Brother, a character from the novel "Nineteen Eighty-Four"
* "Big Brother", the popular reality television series
* London's "ring of steel"
* Governmentality, and the Foucaultian idea of Biopower
* Information Awareness Office
* Mass surveillance
* Omniscience
* Right to privacy
* Totalitarianism
* "The Transparent Society" by David Brin also "Kiln People"
* "The Traveler" by John Twelve Hawks
* video surveillance
* Panopticon (album) by Isis (band)
* Panopticon (Internet culture)
* Total institution

External links

* [ Panopticon] — by Jeremy Bentham (online version)
* [ Special Issue on the Panopticon] — Surveillance and Society
* [ Scare tactics: embedded reporting and the Panopticon effect]
* [ Control and Surveillance from Computers In Society] - on-line Course
* [,M1] John Bowring, The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 4 (Edinburgh: William Tait, 1843). This is the volume of that contains Bentham's writings on the Panopticon.

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См. также в других словарях:

  • Panopticon — Skizze von Jeremy Bentham, 1791 Das Panopticon oder Panoptikum (von griech. „pan“ „alles“ und „optikós“ „zum Schauen gehörend“) ist ein von dem britischen Philosophen und Begründer des klassischen Utilitarismus Jeremy Bentham stammendes Konzept… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Panopticon — Жанры блэк метал паган метал анархистский блэк метал Годы 2007 настоящее время …   Википедия

  • Panopticon — Pa*nop ti*con, n. [NL. See {Pan }, and {Optic}.] [1913 Webster] 1. A prison so contructed that the inspector can see each of the prisoners at all times, without being seen. [1913 Webster] 2. A room for the exhibition of novelties. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • panopticon — (n.) 1768, a type of optical instrument or telescope, from Gk. pan all (see PAN (Cf. pan )) + optikon, neuter of optikos of or for sight (see OPTIC (Cf. optic)). Later the name of a type of prison designed by Bentham (1791) in which wardens had a …   Etymology dictionary

  • Panopticon — Panoptique  Pour l album d Isis, voir Panopticon (album). Kilmainham Gaol, Irlande. Cour intérieure victorienne …   Wikipédia en Français

  • panopticon — This term was first used by Jeremy Bentham in 1791 to describe his idea of an ‘inspection house’ to be used for surveillance purposes in public institutions such as prisons, asylums, and workhouses. The panopticon was a circular construction of… …   Dictionary of sociology

  • panopticon — /pan op ti kon /, n. a building, as a prison, hospital, library, or the like, so arranged that all parts of the interior are visible from a single point. [1760 70; PAN + Gk optikón sight, seeing (neut. of optikós; see OPTIC)] * * * ▪ penal… …   Universalium

  • Panopticón — El panopticón es un centro penitenciario ideal diseñado por el filósofo Jeremy Bentham en 1791. El concepto de este diseño permite a un vigilante observar ( opticón) a todos (pan ) los prisioneros sin que éstos puedan decir si están siendo… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • panopticon — noun A type of prison designed by philosopher Jeremy Bentham wherein all the cells are visible from the center of the building. It engenders the feeling that someone is watching you, even though you know the contrary …   Wiktionary

  • PANOPTICON —    a prison so arranged that the warder can see every prisoner in charge without being seen by them …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

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