The rural panopticon

Philo, C. , Parr, H. and Burns, N. (2017) The rural panopticon. Journal of Rural Studies, 51, pp. 230-239. (doi: 10.1016/j.jrurstud.2016.08.007)

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As a contribution to both rural theory and a geography of rural disability, this paper tackles the idea of the ‘rural panopticon’. Inspired by empirical research on mental ill-health in the Scottish Highlands, the authors specify certain workings of the rural panopticon, stressing interconnections between visibility, observation, surveillance, chatter and interiorised senses of self-disciplining (particularly for those with fragile mental health). There are suggestions that Bentham regarded his institutional brain-child, the Panopticon, as most logically and properly an urban phenomena, even calling it ‘Panopticon Town’, but there is a supplementary argument that identifies a rural vision – of a virtuous, self-regulating farming community – present in the margins of his Panopticon thinking. Through the figure of the ‘glass palace’ in the countryside, emphasising the pervasive watching, judging and censuring of conduct, a further link is made from Bentham's Panopticon to the rural panopticon. The paper explores this link both textually and though the Highlands case study, concluding by examining Foucault's dual attention to both Bentham's Panopticon and a rural colony for delinquent boys, Mettray, as twin exemplars of ‘panopticism’ in the disciplining of troublesome and troubled populations (those with disabilities included).

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Parr, Professor Hester and Philo, Professor Christopher and Burns, Dr Nicola
Authors: Philo, C., Parr, H., and Burns, N.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Health & Wellbeing > General Practice and Primary Care
College of Science and Engineering > School of Geographical and Earth Sciences
Journal Name:Journal of Rural Studies
ISSN (Online):1873-1392
Published Online:29 September 2016
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2016 The Authors
First Published:First published in Journal of Rural Studies 51: 230-239
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
263731Social Geographies of Rural Mental Health: Experiencing Inclusion and ExclusionChristopher PhiloEconomic & Social Research Council (ESRC)R000238453SCHOOL OF GEOGRAPHICAL & EARTH SCIENCES