Mass supervision, misrecognition and the ‘Malopticon’

McNeill, F. (2019) Mass supervision, misrecognition and the ‘Malopticon’. Punishment and Society, 21(2), pp. 207-230. (doi:10.1177/1462474518755137)

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Abstract

This paper aims to contribute to debates about ‘mass supervision’ by exploring its penal character as a lived experience. It begins with a review of recent studies that have used ethnographic methods to explore how supervision is experienced before describing the two projects (‘Supervisible’ and ‘Mass Supervision: Seen and Heard’) on which the paper draws, explaining these as an attempt to generate a ‘counter-visual criminology’ of mass supervision. I then describe two encounters with ‘Teejay’; encounters in which we explored his experiences of supervision firstly through photography and then through song-writing. Both media are presented alongside Teejay’s commentary on what he sought to convey, inviting the reader to engage with and interpret the pictures and song. In the concluding discussion, I offer my own analysis, arguing that Teejay’s representations suggest a need to recognize mass supervision as ‘Maloptical’ as much as ‘Panoptical’. Through the ‘Malopticon’, the penal subject is seen badly, is seen as bad and is projected and represented as bad. Experiences of misrecognition and misrepresentation constitute significant yet poorly understood pains of supervisory punishment. The paper concludes by suggesting several ways in which a counter-visual criminology might follow Teejay’s lead in exposing and challenging of mass supervision.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:McNeill, Professor Fergus
Authors: McNeill, F.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Sociology Anthropology and Applied Social Sciences
Journal Name:Punishment and Society
Publisher:SAGE Publications
ISSN:1462-4745
ISSN (Online):1741-3095
Published Online:29 January 2018
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2018 The Author
First Published:First published in Punishment and Society 21(2): 207-230
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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