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Panopticon

Panopticon
The Panopticon is a type of institutional building designed by the English philosopher and social theorist Jeremy Bentham in the late 18th century. The concept of the design is to allow a single watchman to observe (-opticon) all (pan-) inmates of an institution without them being able to tell whether they are being watched or not. Although it is physically impossible for the single watchman to observe all cells at once, the fact that the inmates cannot know when they are being watched means that all inmates must act as though they are watched at all times, effectively controlling their own behaviour constantly. The name is also a reference to Panoptes from Greek mythology; he was a giant with a hundred eyes and thus was known to be a very effective watchman. The design consists of a circular structure with an “inspection house” at its centre, from which the manager or staff of the institution are able to watch the inmates, who are stationed around the perimeter. Michel Foucault

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panopticon

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