The Culture of Surveillance: Watching as a Way of Life

Speaker(s): David Lyon

Surveillance is often thought of from an operator perspective, as something done to us. But how do we experience surveillance and why do we start doing surveillance ourselves? Is surveillance culture separate from surveillance society, state and economy? Does surveillance culture offer hope for alternative imaginaries and practices?

David Lyon directs the Surveillance Studies Centre, is a Professor of Sociology, holds a Queen’s Research Chair and is cross-appointed as a Professor in the Faculty of Law at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario.

Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, Lyon received a B.Sc. and Ph.D. in social science and history at the University of Bradford in Yorkshire, UK, fueling a fascination with driving forces behind and social consequences of some major transformations of the modern world.

Best known internationally for his work in Surveillance Studies, Lyon defines surveillance as the “operations and experiences of gathering and analyzing personal data for influence, entitlement or management.” As well, he has developed key concepts in the field, such as “social sorting.” Lyon has also taught and researched in the areas of information society, globalization, secularization, and postmodernity. He is author, co-author, editor or co-editor of 28 books. His books have been translated into 16 languages.

He is a co-editor of the journal Surveillance & Society, Associate Editor of The Information Society and is on the international editorial board of a number of other academic journals. Since 2000 Lyon has led a series of team projects; currently, “Big Data Surveillance” (2015-2020). He is also on the international advisory boards of other major projects in Surveillance Studies.

Event details

Annenberg School for Communication