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Surveillance: A Very Short Introduction [#748]
Surveillance: A Very Short Introduction [#748]
  • Explores the scope of surveillanance in society today, and the ways in which data is gathered on people's lives
  • Considers the technologies involved in surveillance, and how it grew to its present size and prevalence
  • Considers the ethical and political debates surrounding surveillance today
  • Demonstrates how surveillance has a very tangible impact on our everyday lives

Surveillance permeates every aspect of our lives today. Once a more limited and often remote aspect of social life, today surveillance is central to political, economic, and everyday life. Every click on the keyboard, every call, text or email, every purchase, every contact with a doctor or the police or a government department, each time you walk under a video camera or pass through a security check, and in many other ways, you are recorded, identified, traced, and tracked. Who processes this free-flowing data, how, and with what consequences, is a critical question affecting everyone.

This is not an alien conspiracy. It is the way today's digitally-dependent world works. Surveillance is not inherently good or bad but neither is it neutral. It urgently needs to be understood better because people's lives and life-chances depend on it. Today surveillance is central to doing business, meeting friends, organizing governance, maintaining security, and being entertained. Surveillance requires not just exploration and understanding but ethical guidance and political debate. How you get credit or welfare benefits or get on a no-fly list or are ranked as a consumer depends on surveillance. This Very Short Introduction investigates how surveillance makes people visible, how it grew to its present size and prevalence, how it came to rely on technologies of data-handling, and how it developed its own cultural features. Throughout, David Lyon also considers the ethics of surveillance, and explores its potential in prompting political struggles.



1: Visible lives: invisible watchers
2: Visible lives: invisible watchers
3: Surveillance technologies in context
4: Data-driven surveillance: new challenges
5: Surveillance culture: an everyday reality
6: Questioning surveillance: critical probes
7: Encountering surveillance: What to do?
8: Surveillance: an optics of hope

Further Reading

About the author: 

David Lyon is Director of The Surveillance Studies Centre, Queen's Research Chair in Surveillance Studies, Professor of Sociology, and Professor of Law at Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario. He has directed a number of large-scale research projects since 1996, and has authored or edited a number of books, including The Culture of Surveillance (2018), and Surveillance after Snowdon (2015). David became an elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 2008.

Product details

ISBN : 9780198796848

David Lyon
176 Pages
111 x 174 mm
Pub date
Jul 2024
Very Short Introductions
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Surveillance: A Very Short Introduction [#748]

Surveillance: A Very Short Introduction [#748]

Surveillance: A Very Short Introduction [#748]