The Culture of SurveillanceWatching as a Way of Life
The Culture of Surveillance
Watching as a Way of Life

From 9/11 to the Snowden leaks, stories about surveillance increasingly dominate the headlines. But security and police agencies or internet and phone companies are not the only players. Surveillance is not only 'done to us' - it is something we do in everyday life. We submit to surveillance, believing that 'we have nothing to hide.' Or we try to protect our privacy or negotiate the terms under which others have access to our data. At the same time, we participate in surveillance in order to supervise children, monitor other road users, and safeguard our property. Social media allows us to keep tabs on others, including complete strangers, as well as on ourselves. This is the culture of surveillance. Watching has become a way of life.

This important new book explores the imaginaries and practices of everyday surveillance, at work, at play, in school, at home, in both 'public' and 'private' domains. Its main focus is not high-tech, organized surveillance operations but our varied, often emotional, mundane experiences of surveillance that range from the casual and careless to the focused and intentional.

Surveillance culture, David Lyon argues, is not detached from the surveillance state, society and economy. It is informed by them. He reveals how the culture of surveillance may help to domesticate and naturalize surveillance of unwelcome kinds, weighing which kinds of surveillance might be fostered for the common good and human flourishing.

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  • May 2018
  • 172 pages
  • 138 x 216 mm / 5 x 9 in
Available Formats
  • Hardback $64.95
  • 9780745671727
  • Paperback $22.95
  • 9780745671734
  • Open eBook $22.95
  • 9781509515455
Table of Contents


Introduction: Surveillance Culture Takes Shape


1. Crucibles of Culture


2. From Convenience to Compliance

3. From Novelty to Normalization

4. From Online to Onlife


5. Total Transparency

6. Hidden Hope


Select Bibliography


About the Author
David Lyon is Professor in the Department of Sociology and Director of the Surveillance Studies Centre at Queen's University, Canada.
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"This book manages to be comprehensive and authoritative in approach, whilst providing a very convincing and accessible account of key shifts in technology and society that underpins the concept of surveillance culture. This makes it both an original and high-quality contribution to the field."
Lina Dencik, Cardiff University

"The Culture of Surveillance provides a nuanced account of contemporary surveillance practices."
Daniel Trottier, Erasmus University Rotterdam

“David Lyon has long been a powerful witness to the corrosive consequences of contemporary surveillance. This latest work warns how digital modernity’s surveillance regimes insinuate themselves into our lives and shape the most intimate qualities of experience. Lyon explores the threat of normalization, calling for resilience and agency against such surveillance and suggesting alternatives. Once again, we are in his debt."
Shoshana Zuboff, Harvard Business School

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