Thomas Mathiesen's ‘The Viewer Society’ has been widely influential. Mathiesen posited, alongside the panopticon, a reciprocal system of control, the synopticon, in which ‘the many’ watch ‘the few’. I point to the value of Mathiesen's arguments but also suggest a reconsideration. I consider where recent challenges to theorizing surveillance as panoptic leave the synopticon. The synopticon is tied to a top—down, instrumental way of theorizing the media. It neglects resistance, alternative currents in media production and reception, the role of culture and the increasing centrality of the internet. Mathiesen's piece is most useful in a narrower way, in highlighting how surveillance and the mass media interact, rather than in thinking about the role of the media in control more generally.

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Keywords media, panopticon, surveillance, synopticon
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Journal Theoretical Criminology
Doyle, A. (2011). Revisiting the synopticon: Reconsidering Mathiesen's 'The Viewer Society' in the age of web 2.0. Theoretical Criminology, 15(3), 283–299. doi:10.1177/1362480610396645