The rural panopticon

Philo, Chris and Parr, Hester and Burns, Nicola (2017) The rural panopticon. Journal of Rural Studies, 51. pp. 230-239. ISSN 0743-0167

Full text not available from this repository.


As a contribution to both rural theory and a geography of rural disability, this paper tackles the idea of the ‘rural panopticon’. Inspired by empirical research on mental ill-health in the Scottish Highlands, the authors specify certain workings of the rural panopticon, stressing interconnections between visibility, observation, surveillance, chatter and interiorised senses of self-disciplining (particularly for those with fragile mental health). There are suggestions that Bentham regarded his institutional brain-child, the Panopticon, as most logically and properly an urban phenomena, even calling it ‘Panopticon Town’, but there is a supplementary argument that identifies a rural vision – of a virtuous, self-regulating farming community – present in the margins of his Panopticon thinking. Through the figure of the ‘glass palace’ in the countryside, emphasising the pervasive watching, judging and censuring of conduct, a further link is made from Bentham's Panopticon to the rural panopticon. The paper explores this link both textually and though the Highlands case study, concluding by examining Foucault's dual attention to both Bentham's Panopticon and a rural colony for delinquent boys, Mettray, as twin exemplars of ‘panopticism’ in the disciplining of troublesome and troubled populations (those with disabilities included).

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Journal of Rural Studies
Uncontrolled Keywords:
ID Code:
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
03 Oct 2016 13:44
Last Modified:
22 Nov 2022 03:49