Theorizing Surveillance: The Panopticon and Beyond

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David Lyon
Willan Publishing, 2006 - Social Science - 351 pages
This book is about explaining surveillance processes and practices in contemporary society. Surveillance studies is a relatively new multi-disciplinary enterprise that aims to understand who watches who, how the watched participate in and sometimes question their surveillance, why surveillance occurs, and with what effects. This book brings together some of the world's leading surveillance scholars to discuss the "why" question. The field has been dominated, since the groundbreaking work of Michel Foucault, by the idea of the panopticon and this book explores why this metaphor has been central to discussions of surveillance, what is fruitful in the panoptic approach, and what other possible approaches can throw better light on the phenomena in question.Since the advent of networked computer databases, and especially since 9/11, questions of surveillance have come increasingly to the forefront of democratic, political and policy debates in the global north (and to an extent in the global south). Civil liberties, democratic participation and privacy are some of the issues that are raised by these developments. But little progress can be made in responding to these issues without an adequate understanding of how, how well and whether or not surveillance works. This book explores the theoretical questions in a way that is grounded in and attuned to empirical realities.

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About the author (2006)

David Lyon is Professor of Sociology at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. He has held visiting positions at the University of Leeds, UK; Calvin College, USA; Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada; Monash University, Australia; Auckland University, New Zealand; the National University of Singapore; the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, France; and the University of Tokyo, Japan. His work has been translated into over ten languages, and includes The Electronic Eye: The Rise of Surveillance Society (1994), and Postmodernity 2nd Edition (1999) also published by Open University Press.

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