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Big Brother is Watching You: Panoptic Control in George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four
Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (starting 2013), Department of Language, Literature and Intercultural Studies.
2014 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesisAlternative title
Storebror ser Dig: Panoptic kontroll i George Orwells 1984. (Swedish)
Abstract [en]

George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, first published in 1949, is a vision of socialism gone wrong. The setting of Oceania is a world ruled over by an oligarchical collective, “The Party,” which wields absolute power through a formidable combination of surveillance technology and the operation of the principles of “panoptic control,” a concept drawn from Jeremy Bentham’s model prison design of the late 1700s and revived by Foucault in the mid 1970s. The combination of surveillance technology and panoptic control is central to the functioning of power in Orwell’s novel, a union which has created a self-sustaining form of totalitarianism dependent on the oppression of individual identity for its automatic perpetuation. This essay offers a reading of Nineteen Eighty-Four as an implicit critique of Bentham’s Panopticon which in many ways foreshadowed the later work of Michel Foucault on the functioning of power within this specific type of physical and social architecture.

Abstract [sv]

George Orwells roman 1984, vilken publicerades första gången 1949, är en framtidsvision om socialism som gått fel. Romanen utspelas i Oceania, en värld som styrs av ett oligarkiskt kollektiv, “Partiet,” vilket utövar absolut makt genom en utstuderad kombination av övervakningsteknik och teorin om “panoptisk” kontroll, ett begrepp sprunget ur av Jeremy Benthams fängelsemodell från sent 1700-tal, vilket återskapades av Michel Foucault i mitten av 1970-talet. Kombinationen av övervakningsteknologi och panopticism har i Oceanien skapat en totalitarianism som fungerar med automatik och förtrycker individuell identitet för att befästa statens makt. Denna uppsats närmar sig Orwells 1984 som en underförstådd kritik av Benthams arbete. Vidare identifier i romanen 1984 många av Foucault’s idéer om hur makt fungerar i en panoptisk struktur.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. , 14 p.
Keyword [en]
George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four, Jeremy Bentham, Michel Foucault, panopticon, panoptic control, panopticism
Keyword [sv]
George Orwell, 1984, Jeremy Bentham, Michel Foucault, panoptisk kontroll
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-35343OAI: diva2:793548
Subject / course
12B545, Karlstads Universitetet, Karlstad
Available from: 2015-03-26 Created: 2015-03-08 Last updated: 2015-03-26Bibliographically approved

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Padden, Michaela
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