PANACEA OR PANOPTICON: THE HIDDEN POWER IN COMPUTER-MEDIATED COMMUNICATION

R SPEARS*, M LEA

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

458 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This article examines how interaction by means of computer-mediated communication (CMC) affects the operation of both status differentials and power relations. The authors attempt to provide a corrective to the dominant assessment, particularly within social psychological analyses, that CMC tends to equalize status, decentralize and democratize decision making, and thus empower and liberate the individual user This emphasis contrasts with sociological critiques employing the Foucauldian metaphor of the panopticon, claiming that power relations can actually be reinforced in CMC. The authors argue that prevailing conceptualizations of influence and power within social psychology have tended to prefigure the more optimistic account, and outline a theoretical framework in which processes of ''panoptic power'' in CMC are given a more concrete social psychological foundation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)427-459
Number of pages33
JournalCommunication Research
Volume21
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug-1994

Keywords

  • DECISION-MAKING
  • INDIVIDUATION

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