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Panoptic Power and the Pathologisation of Vision: Critical Reflections on the Foucauldian Thesis.

Yar, Majid (2003) Panoptic Power and the Pathologisation of Vision: Critical Reflections on the Foucauldian Thesis. Surveillance and Society, 1 (3). pp. 254-271. ISSN 1477-7487

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Abstract

This article attempts to evaluate theoretically the applicability of Foucault’s Panopticon to the practices of public surveillance utilising CCTV technology. The first part maps out three “strands” in the reception of panopticism in surveillance studies, suggesting that it tends to fall into one of three broad kinds: its wholesale appropriation and application; its wholesale rejection as inadequate with respect to a supposedly “post-disciplinary” society; and its qualified acceptance subject to some empirically-dependent limitations. I then attempt in a preliminary way to supplement these three positions. In particular, I question the logical adequacy of equating visual surveillance with effective subjectification and self-discipline by drawing upon a range of philosophical and sociological perspectives. Philosophically, it is suggested that the Foucauldian thesis may well “pathologise” the relationship between subjectivity and visibility, and thereby overlook other dimensions of our experience of vision. Sociologically, it is suggested that the precise relation between surveillance and self-discipline requires us to attend, in ethnomethodological fashion, to the situated sense-making activities of subjects as the go about everyday practical activities in public settings.

Item Type: Article
Journal or Publication Title: Surveillance and Society
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
Departments: Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences > Politics & International Relations (Merged into PPR 2010-08-01)
Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences > Applied Social Science
ID Code: 11532
Deposited By: Mrs Yaling Zhang
Deposited On: 29 Aug 2008 16:18
Refereed?: Yes
Published?: Published
Last Modified: 18 Sep 2013 16:05
Identification Number:
URI: http://eprints.lancs.ac.uk/id/eprint/11532

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