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I Hope I Don't IntrudePrivacy and its Dilemmas in Nineteenth-Century Britain$
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David Vincent

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198725039

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198725039.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 06 March 2021

Comedy and Error

Comedy and Error

(p.229) 9 Comedy and Error
I Hope I Don't Intrude

David Vincent

Oxford University Press

The concluding chapter focuses on two issues. Firstly it considers why a comic figure should come to embody so much of the debate about privacy. It examines the growth of the bureaucratic state that commenced in the late 1820s, concluding that the threat to the individual and domestic archive from government was less than most accounts assume. The change in surveillance systems was gradual, and the nature of liberal governmentality generated a reluctance to inquire in detail into personal lives in the face of the rowdy defence of the home by even the poorest in the community. Secondly, the chapter focuses on the frequency with which those prying on domestic secrets came to the wrong conclusions. It challenges the long-standing treatment of Bentham’s Panopticon as the model of modern surveillance and argues that there is a need to bring communication theory to bear on private discourse.

Keywords:   surveillance, Bentham, panopticon, communication theory, intimacy, statistical movement, state bureaucracy

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