Chapter 8: Surveillance
Surveillance: any collection and processing of personal data, whether identifiable or not,
for the purposes of influencing or managing those whose data have been garndered
(David Lyon 2001)
Surveillance involves the purposive monitoring of conduct to allow for the identification,
acquisition and classification of information with the intention of modifying that
conduct in some manner.
Foucault (1977): a figure of the ‘syndic’ was appointed from amongst the members of the
community to keep watch over its condition and to record the spread of disease within
it. The syndic was monitored by the ‘intendants,’ who reported to the magistrates, who
reported to the mayor.
Characteristics of new surveillance:
1. Extent to which it is embedded within the routines of everyday life: accustomed
to having behaviour monitored in a range of venues
2. It is based upon ‘remote observation,’ performed via a mediating technology
To date, the most influential theory of the nature and functions of surveillance in late-
modernity has been founded upon the work of Michel Foucault, and in particular his
concepts of ‘discipline’ and ‘panopticism.’
Discipline is a form of automatized power, wherein the subject of the regime is induced
to become almost self regulating, so as to act ‘normally.’
The generation of this reflexive and for the most part unnoticed automatic monitoring of
the self was, Foucault argued, based upon the principles of ‘panoptic’ surveillance. The
panopticon was an architectural prison design presented by the utilitarian reformer
Jeremy Bentham in the 18th century.
Bentham’s aim in forwarding the design, was to show how the exercise of power within
the confines of the prison system could be rationalized, with the intention of improving
the reformation of the posited deviant natures of the inmates.
By designing the potential for constant surveillance into the architecture of the prison,
the inmate would be encouraged to accede to the power of the regime and become
ICTS (information and communication technologies) are better for surveillance because
they process information quickly