I’m currently reading The Electronic Eye by David Lyon, in particular chapter 4 addressing the matter of panopticism and surveillance. The question Lyon Poses is this: can panopticism be applied as a generalisable concept across a variety of sociological environments? (p. 72)
Lyon’s question urges the reader to consider the possibility that Foucault’s theory of panopticism may in fact not be applicable to all settings, and the one that is of interest to my research is the matter of employees who maintain a personal blog that, at least at some point, focuses on some aspect of their employment.
To review the applicability of Foucault’s theory I will need to answer some basic questions:
- Can the existence of constant “always on” surveillance be shown?
- Or, does their exist a mechanism whereby a blog author would have reason to believe such surveillance may exist?
- Are their indicators that the subjects of surveillance becoming their own watchers, their own governors, modifying their own subjectivity in order to comply with rules and regulations?
- Can it be said that the subjects of such surveillance show indications of normalisation?
- What might be said about the spatial aspects of Foucault’s conception of panopticism in relation to blogs and employee bloggers.
These are some preliminary questions that may serve to guide my later thinking as I build up a section of my thesis on the techniques of power utilised by employers.
Lyon, D. (1994). The Electronic Eye. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.