Panopticon… Who has the power in this spectacle?

The panopticon  is a type of institutional building designed by the theorist Jeremy Bentham in the late 18th century. the concept of the design is to allow all (pan-) inmates of an institution to be observed (-opticon) by a single watchman without the inmates being able to tell whether or not they are being watched.

We were then sent out in groups to find different examples of panopticon in our everyday lifestyle. One of our examples was a zebra crossing, from this we found that we are the discourse and the drivers are the subject. As we crossed the road, we shifted the balance and we regained the power. Without focusing much on the driver us as the pedestrian dictate the flow of things, whereas the driver has to focus on us. Although I feel in the actual ‘Panopticon’ we shouldn’t over look the power of the inmates. Even though they are being watched, they are also doing the watching which could be daunting for the guard. This method of systemised control could be reflected in modern day society as we are always under the impression that we are being watched on CCTV and even social media, and I personally feel as if society takes every opportunity to let us know we are being viewed just as a little reminder to think and act wisely. Our in class discussion went further and we spoke about religion and whether this is a similar ploy to keep humanity in order by threatening them with eternal suffering.

The structure of the panopticon is resembled when the individual is in the middle of the crossing. A sense of interrogation is felt by the individual as the driver wants them to cross safely.


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