Surveillance sweeps over many aspects of our everyday lives in the 21st century – routine interactions with governments, corporations and many other organisations. In an increasingly data dependent world we can't escape surveillance. It is a fundamental element of our experiences, interaction and initiative in countries spanning the global north and south, not least through internet and social media use. Surveillance has rapidly become part of an entire way of life that involuntarily places all of us under close scrutiny, even through mundane 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, ‘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 about social relationships, for ethics, the politics of data and the life that we take for granted.
David Lyon is Director of the Surveillance Studies Centre and Professor of Sociology and Professor of Law at Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario. Educated at the University of Bradford in the UK, Lyon has been studying surveillance since the mid-1980s. Credited with spearheading the field of “Surveillance Studies”, he has produced a steady stream of books. His most recent publication is The Culture of Surveillance (Polity, 2018) and he is currently working on Surveillance: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford).
Dr Benedetta Brevini is Senior Lecturer in Communication and Media at the University of Sydney and Visiting Fellow of the Centre for Law, Justice and Journalism at City University, London. She writes on the Guardian’s Comment is Free and contributes to a number of print and web publications, including Index of Censorship, OpenDemocracy and the Conversation. She is the author of Public Service Broadcasting online (2013) and editor of the acclaimed volume Beyond Wikileaks (2013). Her latest volumes are Carbon Capitalism and Communication : Confronting Climate Crisis (2017) and Climate Change and the Media (2018).
Peter Marks is Chair of Department of Writing Studies at University of Sydney. He completed his combined Honours degree in English Literature and Political Science at UNSW, and his PhD in English at the University of Edinburgh. His interests include the relationships between literature and cinema, as well as between literature and politics; in periodical culture; in utopias, and in the literary and cinematic representation of surveillance. He has been a Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Edinburgh; Clare Hall, Cambridge University; and King’s College, London.
Thursday 21 March
Join us for this conversation with political philosopher Tim Soutphommasane, as he reflects on race relations and multiculturalism in Australia and beyond, and what it means for democracy worldwide.
Wednesday 27 March
Join Vice-Chancellor Dr Michael Spence, leading gender equality advocate Elizabeth Broderick and ABC journalist Sarah Ferguson as they share insights into how society can successfully embed cultural change into our daily lives and workplaces.
Thursday 28 March
Join us for a conversation with John McArthur, UN Foundation senior advisor and Brookings Institution senior fellow, about global efforts towards Sustainable Development Goals and what it will take for Australia to rise to a leading role.
Each month we'll send you details about upcoming events, and a selection of podcasts.