Online Pornography. The panopticon and its pleasures

  • Walter Stefano Baroni Università di Genova
Keywords: online pronography, Foucault studies, neoliberal body, victim


The paper examines the issue of online pornography, focussing on some big hub websites devoted to porn, such as, and The aim of the analysis is to get a better understanding of the experience they offer to the audience. On the basis of a foucauldian perspective and the ideas of panopticon and discipline as key features of the Modernity, the essay seeks to propose a “thick description” of the online pornography. In accordance with Geertz’s approach, the meaning of cultural texts results from a close examination of their semiotic background: as to the porn websites analysed, that means that the way they work on their audience, producing pleasure, depends on both the pornographic text and paratext. Considering those elements together,, and are not just distribution channels of pornography. Rather, they looks as a “disciplinary” spectacle where bodies are subjected to an anarchic discipline to extract pleasure from them. The disciplinary practices of sex in which bodies are involved take place in a timeless and spaceless location, giving shape to the representation of an utopian society, whose centre is the body of the victim as a lacerable surface.


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Author Biography

Walter Stefano Baroni, Università di Genova

Walter Stefano Baroni is a sociologist. He collaborates with the Department of Educational Sciences of the University of Genoa. His main research interest is a Foucault-inspired analysis of the discourse of contemporary social sciences. His last works - Contro l’intercultura. Retoriche e pornografia dell’incontro (Ombre corte 2013) e Cultura della vulnerabilità. L’homelessness e i suoi territori, (Pearson 2014, with Gabriella Petti) – are devoted to decostructing social science’s common sense, by showing how close it is to bad literature.


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How to Cite
Baroni, W. (2015). Online Pornography. The panopticon and its pleasures. Between, 5(9).
Walls, Screens, Photographs - Planes of Censorship