Panoptic Blockchain Ecosystems: An Exploratory Case Study of the Beef Supply Chain
Blockchain is a technologically enabled expression of the panopticon metaphor — however, duplicated as both a carrot and a stick. This paper demonstrates how the metaphor can be used to deepen an existing understanding of law and governance through the technology and social tool of blockchain. This enhances our understanding of blockchain and shows a new way of considering its value as a technology. This is presented in three stages.
The first stage explores the role of the panopticon as initially conceptualised by Bentham, and subsequently developed by Foucault. The second stage of this paper turns to the social and community borne effects of blockchain and the benefits of the technology as a social tool. It is argued that blockchain technology can augment juridic and governance power through the formation of blockchain-enabled communities. These communities will have the means to self-regulate their actions because of the technology in a manner that replicates the qualities of the panopticon. The third stage considers this technology through a legal lens and provides a practical example using observations from the BeefLedger project. This explores the potential value of blockchain to the Australian beef supply chain and importance to food fraud, food safety, and animal welfare.