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Foucault, M. (1995).  Discipline and punish : the birth of the prison.
"There are two images then, of discipline. At one extreme, the discipline-blockade, the enclosed institution, established on the edges of society, turned inwards towards negative functions: arresting evil, breaking communications, suspending time. At the other extreme, with panopticism, is the discipline-mechanism: a functional mechanism that must improve the exercise of power by making it lighter, more rapid, more effective, a design of subtle coercion for a society to come. The movement from one project to the other, from a schema of exceptional discipline to one of a generalized surveillance, rests on a historical transformation: the gradual extension of the mechanisms of discipline throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, their spread throughout the whole social body, the formation of what might be called in general the disciplinary society." (p. 209)
Beauchamp, T. L. (1992).  Ethical Theory and Business.
"In summary, while record keeping is, by no means, a new activity, it appears that information technology has changed record keeping in the following ways: (1) it has made a new scale of information gathering possible; (2) it has made new kinds of information gathering possible, especially transaction generated information; (3) is has made a new scale of information distribution and exchange possible; (4) the effect of erroneous information can be magnified; and (5) information about events in one's life may endure much longer than ever before. These five changes make the case for the claim that the world we live in is more like a panopticon than ever before....
"Information is created, collected, and exchanged because organizations can use it to further their interests and activities. Information about individuals is used to make decisions about those individuals, and often the decisions profoundly affect the lives of those individuals whom the information is about." (p. 434)
Zuboff, S. (1988).  In the Age of the Smart Machine: The Future of Work and Power.
"Techniques of control and the panoptic power they convey offer one such alternative. Information systems can alter many of the classic contingencies of the superior-subordinate relationship, providing certain information about the subordinates' behavior while eliminating the necessity of face-to-face engagement. They can transmit the presence of the omniscient observer and so induce compliance without the messy conflict-prone exertions of reciprocal relations." (p. 323)
Aronowitz, S., & Difazio W. (1994).  The Jobless Future: Sci-Tech and the Dogma of Work.
"In the past twenty-five years, computer-mediated work, despite its potential for reintegrating design and execution, has been employed, typically but not exclusively, in a manner that reproduces the hierarchies of managerial authority. The division between intellectual and manual labor and the degradation of manual labor that was characteristic of the industrializing era have been simultaneously shifted to the division between the operators and the professional-managerial employees, but also the division between the "lower" operating and "higher" expert orders broadly reproduces within intellectual labor itself the old gulf separating manual and intellectual labor in the mechanical era. Hierarchy is frequently maintained despite the integrative possibilities of the technology. Under this regime of production, the computer provides the basis for greatly extending the system of discipline and control inherited from nineteenth-century capitalism. Many corporations have used it to extend their Panopticonic world-view; that is, they have deployed the computer as a means of employee surveillance that far exceeds the most imperious dreams of the Panopticon's inventor, Jeremy Bentham, or any nineteenth- or early twentieth-century capitalist." (p. 89)
Glass, J. M. (1995).  Psychosis and Power: Threats to democracy in the self and the group.
"Bentham's panoptical vision served as an icon for a type of punishment society accepted as essential for its well-being. Panoptical power, however, is only one form of power, and the weakness in Foucault's argument is that it overlooks political concepts of power which depend in large measure on leaders' ideological and public pronouncements and on the willingness of followers to embrace the messages, intents, and weaknesses of their leaders." (p. 112)

See also: psychic prison, discipline, overmanagement, objectification, control

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Concept Scheme: business culture/management vocabulary

URI: business culture/management vocabulary


  • Concept: panopticism
    • preferred: panopticism
    • definition: a circular prison with cells distributed around a central surveillance station; proposed by Jeremy Bentham in 1791
    • related: psychic_prison
    • related: discipline
    • related: overmanagement
    • broader: objectification
    • broader: control
    • closeMatch:
    • keyword-92
    • linked content:
      • in scheme:
      • gloss: a circular prison with cells distributed around a central surveillance station; proposed by Jeremy Bentham in 1791
      • hyponym of:
      • sense: panopticon
      • synset id: 103883773
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