Pub. date: 2005 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952514 | Print ISBN: 9780761927310 | Online ISBN: 9781412952514| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
The Panopticon is an idealized architectural form designed by British philosopher Jeremy Bentham (1748–1832) in the 18th century. Originally put forward as a design for a range of institutions, including schools, factories, and military barracks, the Panopticon has been particularly influential in prison architecture, theory, and management. In 1787, Jeremy Bentham visited Russia to see his brother, Samuel, who was working as an engineer for Prince Potemkin, Prime Minister of Catherine the Great. At the time, Samuel Bentham was constructing a circular textile mill designed so that overseers could monitor their workers without being seen. Jeremy Bentham found this design intriguing and thought it would work well for other types of buildings, including prisons. He wrote several letters to a friend, in which he described his ideas for what he came to call the “Panopticon,” based on what he had seen in Russia. Printed in 1791, though never sold in ...