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The Electronic Eye. The Rise of Surveillance Society - Computers and Social Control in Context

  • ID: 2249184
  • Book
  • January 1994
  • 272 Pages
  • John Wiley and Sons Ltd
The increasing influence of computers in modern societies has been seen by some as offering great promise for the future, but by others as menacing in the extreme. In this work David Lyon investigates the validity of these two opposing points of view.

Whether making a phone call, claiming benefits, entering the workplace or using a credit card, more and more daily activities are recorded and traced using what are here called surveillance systems.

Computerization vastly expands the surveillance capacity of all forms of organization, including the state, but also extending to the consumer marketplace. By analysing these various contexts of surveillance activity, Lyon is able to offer a judicious interpretation of the influence electronic information systems have upon the social order today. The result is an interpretation of modern social, political and economic institutions which goes far beyond merely assessing the role of information technology.

Lyon provides an overview of such surveillance as a major phenomenon of contemporary societies. But neither the optimistic nor the pessimistic view of the role of information technology is accurate. The reality is much more complex and subtle. In unravelling these complexities Lyon makes a genuine contribution to the understanding of modern institutions in an era of globalizing electronic communication.

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Preface and Acknowledgements.

Part I: Situating Surveillance:.

1. Introduction: Body, Soul and Credit Card.

2. Surveillance in Modern Society.

3. New Surveillance Technologies.

4. From Big Brother to the Electronic Panopticon.

Part II: Surveillance Trends:.

5. The Surveillance State: Keeping Tabs on You.

6. The Surveillance State: From Tabs to Tags.

7. The Transparent Worker.

8. The Targetted Consumer.

Part III: Counter–Surveillance:.

9. Challenging Surveillance.

10. Privacy, Power, Persons.

11. Against Dystopia, Distance, Division.

12. Beyond Postmodern Paranoia.



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"It is an extremely wide–ranging treatment of the monitoring of what used to be called private citizens in the world′s ′advanced′ societies. No other book offers such a comprehensive view of the literature on surveillance, nor does any other author on the subject surpass Lyon′s ability to write engagingly and clearly."
James B. Rule

"From a ′citizen consisting of body, soul, and passport′ to a ′citizen consisting of body, soul and a credit card leads the wondrous transformation of men and women of our times, as well as of those who control, survey, monitor and supervise every episode of their life itinerary – both scrupulously recorded and vividly portrayed in David Lyon′s new book. Knowing from Foucault that modernity was above all and from the start about surveillance, what can (and ought) be added to that knowledge by the experience of computerised and information–saturated society, prominent for the willing Cupertino of the surveilled with the surveillors? This seminal question Lyon asks; he also answers it comprehensively and in an utterly authoritative fashion."
––Zygmunt Bauman

"Lyon writes in a lively fashion and there are some excellent illustrations of his thesis. His arguments draw on a wide variety of literature and there is a refreshing attempt to combine empirical analysis with critical social theory. It is also a timely book."
––The Sociological Review

"It is a user–friendly textbook ... easily–digestible ... and judiciously balanced in it′s argument."

"Wide–ranging sociological review ... the book is lucidly written ... and demands a response from the reader: definitely recommended."
––Environment and Planning

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