Full Text

Scopic Regime

Martin Jay

Subject Communication Studies » Visual and Non-verbal Communication
Media Studies » Film Studies

People Descartes, René

Key-Topics cinema

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405131995.2008.x


The French film theorist Christian Metz coined the term “scopic regime” in The imaginary signifier (1982 , 1st pub.1975) to distinguish the cinema from the theatre: “what defines the specifically cinematic scopic regime is not so much the distance kept … as the absence of the object seen” (1982, 61). Because of the cinematic apparatus's construction of an imaginary object, its scopic regime is unhinged from its “real” referent (→  Cinema ). Representation is independent of what is represented, at least as a present stimulus, both spatially and temporally (→  Visual Representation ). Others employ the term more broadly to define visual experiences mediated, even constituted, by other technologies, such as photography, television, and digital computers, as well as to postulate significant gender differences (more often a regime fostered by the “male gaze”; →  Spectator Gaze ). Certain activities like shopping and spectator sports have been granted their own local scopic regimes. More ambitious theoreticians have posited general systems of visuality constructed by a cultural/technological/political apparatus mediating the apparently given world of objects in a neutral perceptual field. In this more totalizing usage, “scopic regime” indicates a non-natural visual order operating on a pre-reflective level to determine the dominant protocols of seeing and being on view in a specific ... log in or subscribe to read full text

Log In

You are not currently logged-in to Blackwell Reference Online

If your institution has a subscription, you can log in here:


     Forgotten your password?

Find out how to subscribe.

Your library does not have access to this title. Please contact your librarian to arrange access.

[ access key 0 : accessibility information including access key list ] [ access key 1 : home page ] [ access key 2 : skip navigation ] [ access key 6 : help ] [ access key 9 : contact us ] [ access key 0 : accessibility statement ]

Blackwell Publishing Home Page

International Encyclopedia of Communication Online ® is a Blackwell Publishing Inc. registered trademark
Technology partner: Semantico Ltd.

Blackwell Publishing and its licensors hold the copyright in all material held in Blackwell Reference Online. No material may be resold or published elsewhere without Blackwell Publishing's written consent, save as authorised by a licence with Blackwell Publishing or to the extent required by the applicable law.

Back to Top