Revisiting the Panopticon: professional regulation, surveillance and sousveillance


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Abstract

In this article, we will consider how the regulation of populations is not just a feature of prisons, but of all institutions and organisations that control members though hierarchies, divisions and norms. While nurses and other allied health professionals are considered to be predominantly self-regulatory, practice is guided by a code of conduct and codes of ethics that act as rules that serve to uphold the safety of the patient, whether they are a sick person in a hospital bed or an inmate in a prison. The codes of conduct espouse a number of rules that to a certain extent govern the behaviour of individual and groups of practitioners through reciprocal rewards and punishments. Supervision is one method of monitoring the effectiveness of the codes of conduct and ethics while regulating both the minimum standard of individual practice and of training organisations. It is posited that one of the possible effects of clinical supervision is to make the person effectively self-regulatory as, an autonomous practitioner. We take the view that professional autonomy is a highly problematic concept requiring closer examination.

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