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panoptic surveillance

Definition of Panoptic Surveillance

(noun) Surveillance that is constant and uneasing, sometimes barely visible, and the observed never engages with the observers.

Examples of Panoptic Surveillance

  • Security cameras in an office.
  • Watchtower at a prison.

Panoptic Surveillance Pronunciation

  • IPA Pronunciation
    • American English
      • /pænˈɑptɪk sərˈveɪləns/
    • British English
      • /pəˈnɒptɪk səˈveɪləns/
      • /pəˈnɒptɪk səˈveɪln̩s/
      •  /pəˈnɒptɪk səːˈveɪləns/
      •  /pəˈnɒptɪk səːˈveɪln̩s/
      •  /pəˈnɒptɪk səˈveɪ(j)əns/
      • /panˈɒptɪk səˈveɪləns/
      • /panˈɒptɪk səˈveɪln̩s/
      • /panˈɒptɪk səːˈveɪləns/
      • /panˈɒptɪk səːˈveɪln̩s/
      • /panˈɒptɪk səˈveɪ(j)əns/
  • Syllabification: (pan·op·tic sur·veil·lance)

Usage Notes

  • Plural: panoptic surveillances
  • Panoptic surveillance is a method of control.
  • Based in Jeremy Bentham’s (1748–1832) conceptualization of the panoticon, which is a circular tower serving as a prison, with unseen security located at the center.

Additional Information

Related Terms


Cite the Definition of Panoptic Surveillance

ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “panoptic surveillance.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved August 20, 2019 (https://sociologydictionary.org/panoptic-surveillance/).

APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)

panoptic surveillance. (2013). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from https://sociologydictionary.org/panoptic-surveillance/

Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “panoptic surveillance.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed August 20, 2019. https://sociologydictionary.org/panoptic-surveillance/.

MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)

“panoptic surveillance.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2013. Web. 20 Aug. 2019. <https://sociologydictionary.org/panoptic-surveillance/>.