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The Culture of Surveillance: Who's watching whom, now?


29 February 2012

Professor David Lyon: "Whenever we login to Facebook, make a call, walk in the street, pay with a card, enter the office, go through the airport, surf the net or use a loyalty card we're surveilled."
Professor David Lyon: "Whenever we login to Facebook, make a call, walk in the street, pay with a card, enter the office, go through the airport, surf the net or use a loyalty card we're surveilled."

Today's world would have astonished and disturbed George Orwell says Professor David Lyon, who will deliver a Sydney Ideas lecture at the University this week.

"Although some individuals and groups question what's happening and may even take risks in resisting surveillance, others among the surveilled not only collude with the surveillors but do so willingly," says Professor Lyon, Director of the Surveillance Studies Centre at Canada's Queen's University.

And while the visual surveillance predicted by Orwell is still important, the new surveillance culture runs less on images than on information, he argues.

"Whenever we login to Facebook, make a call, walk in the street, pay with a card, enter the office, go through the airport, surf the net or use a loyalty card we're surveilled.

"It has become normal - ordinary people engage in surveillance practices. You might use a nanny cam, check out job applicants on social media, or install security cameras at home."

Surveillance still occurs in government, policing, intelligence and commerce but it is also hard-wired into streets and buildings, wirelessly present in smart phones and the internet. It has also been democratised for mass participation through social media.

Professor Lyon, in Sydney as a guest of the University of Sydney's Surveillance and Everyday Life Research Group, will discuss the concept of "surveillance cultures" - the various ways that surveillance becomes a way of life.


About David Lyon

David Lyon is Director, Surveillance Studies Centre, Queen's Research Chair in Surveillance Studies and Professor of Sociology and Law at Queen's University, Canada. In 2007 he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Sociological Association and in 2008 he was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.

He is the author of Identifying Citizens: ID Cards as Surveillance (2009) and Surveillance Studies: An Overview (2007). His latest co-edited collections are Eyes Everywhere: The Global Growth of Camera Surveillance (2012), Handbook of Surveillance Studies (2012).


Event details

What: The Culture of Surveillance: Who's watching whom, now?, a Sydney Ideas lecture by David Lyon

When: 6pm, Thursday 1 March

Where: Lecture Theatre 101, New Law Building, Camperdown Campus. See map and directions

Cost: This event is free and open to all, with no ticket or booking required. Seating is unreserved and entry is on a first come, first served basis.


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