Everyday life in the twenty-first century is unavoidably surveillant, especially in the increasingly data-dependent global north. Surveillance is an inescapable aspect of interactions with governments, corporations, and indeed any and all organisations. It is part of everyday experience, interaction, involvement, and initiative, not least through internet and social media use. Surveillance is rapidly becoming part of a whole way of life, seen in mundane imaginaries and practices such as complacent data donation or social ranking. But these are not innocent cultural developments; they echo and embody an emerging stage of political-economic development, named by some as ‘surveillance capitalism.’ Led by giant internet corporations such as Google, this phenomenon promotes data capture and analysis as the new fuel for prosperity and progress. If this conjunction is correctly stated, it raises profound questions of social relationships, for ethics, the politics of data and everyday life.
Professor David Lyon FRSC, Research Chair in Surveillance Studies and Professor of Sociology and of Law at Queen’s University, is a leading international figure in Surveillance Studies. He is Director of the Surveillance Studies Centre at Queen’s University, Ontario. He has authored or edited 29 books and numerous articles and his work has been translated into more than 18 languages. The Culture of Surveillance: Watching as a Way of Life (2018) is his latest book, following Surveillance after Snowden (2015). He has received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Sociological Association, Communication and Information Technology Section and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.