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Bentham, Deleuze and Beyond: An Overview of Surveillance Theories from the Panopticon to Participation


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This paper aims to provide an overview of surveillance theories and concepts that can help to understand and debate surveillance in its many forms. As scholars from an increasingly wide range of disciplines are discussing surveillance, this literature review can offer much-needed common ground for the debate. We structure surveillance theory in three roughly chronological/thematic phases. The first two conceptualise surveillance through comprehensive theoretical frameworks which are elaborated in the third phase. The first phase, featuring Bentham and Foucault, offers architectural theories of surveillance, where surveillance is often physical and spatial, involving centralised mechanisms of watching over subjects. Panoptic structures function as architectures of power, not only directly but also through (self-) disciplining of the watched subjects. The second phase offers infrastructural theories of surveillance, where surveillance is networked and relies primarily on digital rather than physical technologies. It involves distributed forms of watching over people, with increasing distance to the watched and often dealing with data doubles rather than physical persons. Deleuze, Haggerty and Ericson, and Zuboff develop different theoretical frameworks than panopticism to conceptualise the power play involved in networked surveillance. The third phase of scholarship refines, combines or extends the main conceptual frameworks developed earlier. Surveillance theory branches out to conceptualise surveillance through concepts such as dataveillance, access control, social sorting, peer-to-peer surveillance and resistance. With the datafication of society, surveillance combines the physical with the digital, government with corporate surveillance and top-down with self-surveillance.
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Bentham, Deleuze and Beyond: An Overview
of Surveillance Theories from the Panopticon
to Participation
&Tjerk Timan
&Bert-Jaap Koops
Received: 30 October 2015 / Accepted: 18 April 2016 /Published online: 13 May 2016
#The Author(s) 2016. This article is published with open access at
Abstract This paper aims to provide an overview of surveillance theories and concepts
that can help to understand and debate surveillance in its many forms. As scholars from an
increasingly wide range of disciplines are discussing surveillance, this literature review
can offer much-needed common ground for the debate. We structure surveillance theory
in three roughly chronological/thematic phases. The first two conceptualise surveillance
through comprehensive theoretical frameworks which are elaborated in the third phase.
The first phase, featuring Bentham and Foucault, offers architectural theories of surveil-
lance, where surveillance is often physical and spatial, involving centralised mechanisms
of watching over subjects. Panoptic structures function as architectures of power, not only
directly but also through (self-) disciplining of the watched subjects. The second phase
offers infrastructural theories of surveillance, where surveillance is networked and relies
primarily on digital rather than physical technologies. It involves distributed forms of
watching over people, with increasing distance to the watched and often dealing with data
doubles rather than physical persons. Deleuze, Haggerty and Ericson, and Zuboff develop
different theoretical frameworks than panopticism to conceptualise the power play
involved in networked surveillance. The third phase of scholarship refines, combines or
extends the main conceptual frameworks developed earlier. Surveillance theory branches
out to conceptualise surveillance through concepts such as dataveillance, access control,
social sorting, peer-to-peer surveillance and resistance. With the datafication of society,
surveillance combines the physical with the digital, government with corporate surveil-
lance and top-down with self-surveillance.
Keywords Surveillance theory.Discipline .Control .Surveillant assemblage .
Surveillance capitalism .Participatory surveillance
Philos. Technol. (2017) 30:937
DOI 10.1007/s13347-016-0219-1
*Tjerk Timan;
Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology, and Society TILT, Tilburg University, PO Box 90153,
5000 LE Tilburg, The Netherlands
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1 Introduction
Surveillance is a topical issue in Western societies, with growing awareness and an
increase in both number and type of surveillance technologies. Throughout the second
half of the previous century, not only the type and number of surveillance technologies
but also the type and scope of persons and spaces being surveilled have gradually
increased. This has triggered the emergence of a scholarly discipline called surveillance
studies, a multidisciplinary field covering both theoretical and empirical accounts of
past, current and near-future surveillance in society. However, since surveillance is used
as an umbrella term that covers a broad range of sub-topics discussed in other domains
as well (e.g. privacy, urban planning, governance, policing, safety and security), the
concept of surveillance features increasingly in different contexts and disciplines,
making it harder to follow and focus debates across disciplines. Therefore, the aim of
this paper is to provide a largely chronological-thematic overview of surveillance
theories and concepts that can help scholars from an increasingly wide range of
disciplines to understand and debate surveillance in its many forms.
The term surveillance can be deconstructed in its etymological parts sur(from
above), and veillance(to watch). Where often first associations with the terms
surveillance are that of Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras placedin city centres
and other spaces (e.g. airports, highways, the workplace), the term has been discussed
before the emergence of ubiquitous electronic eyes in public (and, increasingly, private)
spaces. Due to vast and seemingly radical technological changes that information and
communication technologies (ICTs) have brought about since roughly the 1960s, the
term surveillance has been spreading both in meaning and substance and has been
theorised from a large range of disciplines. One point of departure for understanding
surveillance can be found in Lyons explanation of surveillance being about both caring
and controlling (Lyon 2006). The subject of surveillance is being watched with a certain
purpose, which can be controlling and disciplining the subject into certain behaviour or a
set of norms, but alsopossibly at the same timeprotecting and caring for that
subject. Where this understanding resonates with earlier writings on surveillance, in
more recent theories and concepts, the notion of the subject as a passive actor is being
questioned, as is the idea of an underlying project to impose certain morals.
In this paper, we will address key theoretical concepts of surveillance (studies), in an
attempt to map thematically, and largely chronologically, different ways of thinking about
surveillance in society (or surveillance societies), thereby also trying to clarify what
surveillance means. Whilst many theoretical and empirical accounts have been added to
the body of surveillance literature since Lyon (2001,2003,2006,2007), in our view, a
succinct overview of key surveillance theories and concepts is lacking. Therefore, this paper
offers a literature review of the main surveillance theories and thinkers. We structure the
paper by distinguishing certain clusters of scholars and discussing authors and theories on
the basis of associated content and concepts. These clusters can roughly be ordered
chronologically by distinguishing the following three phases in surveillance theory building.
(1) Benthams liberal project connected to the architectural design of a prison and other
buildings and Foucaults subsequent analysis of discipline and the Panopticon as a
metaphor to talk about institutions and society. This has laid the foundations of
surveillance theory in the form of a conceptual framework that still resonates today.
10 M. Galičet al.
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(2) Post-Panoptical theories of surveillance. The second phase moves away from the
Panopticon to develop alternative theoretical frameworks for capturing surveillance.
Here, we will focus on Deleuzes (and Guattaris) control societies, linked to
bureaucracy and the dawn of a computerised, networked society, followed by
Haggerty and Ericsons surveillant assemblage and Zuboffs surveillance capitalism.
(3) Contemporary conceptualisations of surveillance. Rather than developing new or
alternative comprehensive theoretical frameworks, much of contemporary surveil-
lance theory is characterised by refinements of, and additions to, the main
conceptual frameworks developed earlier. Surveillance theory branches out in
different directions, from new types of Panopticons and digital surveillance to
more user-centric perspectives of participation and resistance.
2 Phase 1: Exploring the Panopticon
2.1 Benthams Panopticons: The Limited Reach of the Spatial Panoptic Gaze
The Panopticon is probably Benthams best-known but also most controversial idea
(Schofield 2009). It has become the most widely used metaphor for surveillance,
becoming almost its synonym. The Panopticon has become particularly famous through
Foucaults concept of panopticism, resulting in Bentham often being understood
through the reading of Foucault. This, however, is misleading, and scholars are begin-
ning to advocate that Benthams thought be re-examined and the boundaries of well-
established Foucauldian truthsabout the Panopticon (which will be further re-
examined in section 2.2) be pushed back (Brunon-Ernst and Tusseau 2013). In fact,
scholarship has relatively recently come to the conclusion that Bentham did not create
one Panopticon but at least four Panopticons.
Besides, the well-known prison-
Panopticon(described primarily in Panopticon; or the Inspection-House (1786,
17901791)), there are also the pauper-Panopticon(designed for the housing of
indigents but also for reformation and work; described primarily in Outline of a Work
entitled Pauper Management Improved (17971798)), the chrestomatic-Panopticon(a
Panopticon-shaped day-school, where one inspecting master could supervise pupils
without being seen; described primarily in Chrestomathia (18161817)) and the con-
stitutional-Panopticon(although the term Panopticon is not used, the architectural
arrangements are panoptic; described primarily in Constitutional Code (1830)).
Foucaults concept of panopticism is primarily grounded on Benthamsdescriptionof
the prison-Panopticon. However, the three less-known Panopticons do more than merely
replicate the original prison-Panopticon idea; they present amended versions of the idea,
reflecting its adaptation to new contexts and exemplifying different panoptic and even
anti-panoptic features. Thus, Bentham uses the Panopticonas a paradigmatic idea that
can be adapted and used in a variety of social spaces and for different purposes.
The prison-Panopticon depicts a prison designed as a circular building (Bentham
later amended its shape to an octangular shape, whilst the pauper-Panopticon was
dodecagonal), with an inspector in the central tower who oversees the activities of
Classification by Anne Brunon-Ernst, Deconstructing Panopticism into the Plural Panopticons, in Beyond
Foucault (2013).
Bentham, Deleuze and Beyond: An Overview of Surveillance Theories 11
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convicts in their cells. It is essentially an architectural idea, a strategy of space, but one
that results in a new mode of obtaining power of mind over mind in a quantity hitherto
without example(Bentham 2010, 15). Through specific architectural design, an
illusion of constant surveillance is createdthe prisoners are not really watched
constantly but they believe they are. In Benthams time, possibilities of surveillance
were significantly bound by physical limitations. One of the key ideas or effects of the
prison-Panopticon (and similarly designed Panopticons) was to create an extension of
perception beyond visible locales and the reduction of temporal relations to spatial
relations, thus enhancing the possibility of the disciplinary panoptic power (Božovič
2010). Surveillance is carried out from one single point, and it is the inspector in his
central lodge who possesses this extended power. The inspector is perceived as an
invisible omnipresence, an utterly dark spot(Božovič2010, 11) in the all-transparent
space of the prison-Panopticon, where the inmates are seen without seeing the one who
sees them. It is precisely the inspectors apparent omnipresence that sustains perfect
discipline in the prison-Panopticoneven a momentary exposure to the eyes of the
prisoners would destroy the idea of his omnipresence in the minds of the prisoners. In
the prisonersperception, the inspector is all-seeing, omniscient and omnipotent.
This description of the prison-Panopticon is in line with Foucaults concept of
panopticism, which theorises surveillance as involving an all-seeing inspector. Foucault
defines panopticism as a type of power that is applied to individuals in the form of
continuous individual supervision, in the form of control, punishment, and compensation,
and in the form of correction, that is, the modelling and transforming of individuals in
terms of certain norms(Foucault 2002, 70) where panopticrefers to seeing everything,
everyone, all the time(Foucault 2006, 52). But Benthams vision, already in the prison-
Panopticon, was not to create a society of controlwhere people would be watched all the
time; rather, the idea was that discipline would be internalised and the need for the
inspector, the watching itself, would be eventually exhausted. This means that truly
continuous and all-seeing inspection is not desired at all; in fact, already Benthams
prison-Panopticon was not actually all-seeing, and the purpose of such central inspection
was to obviate the need for watching, punishment and the Panopticon itself.
Bentham imagined the Panopticons as liberal political projectsthey were
proposed solutions to increasing social and economic problems of the time in
Britain (e.g. the number of convicts and indigents that was rising fast beyond
the states capabilities, Schofield 2009). According to his utilitarian philosophy,
trying to achieve the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people,
Bentham saw punishment as evil in itself, allowed only if it excluded greater
evil. In regard to the prison-Panopticon, the specific architecture thus also
served the goal of prisonersliberation from more overtly coercive forms of
institutional violence, which were common at the time. Moreover:
the key point was not the fact that the inmates of Panopticon would be watched
all the time, but that they would be aware that they might be being watched.
The inspector saw an infraction. He did not punish immediately, but waited. He
saw a second infraction. At some point thereafter, he would confront the perpe-
trator with his record book. BSee here, your infractions, with the date and time.
This is your punishment.^Once a punishment had been administered, and the
prisoners saw that, should they misbehave, punishment was certain, they would
12 M. Galičet al.
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no longer misbehave. There would no longer be any need for them to be watched.
They would be reformed. (Schofield 2009,92)
There is more to Benthamspanoptic paradigm(a term coined by Anne Brunon-
Ernst), than the authoritarian aspects of panoptic power described by Foucault.
panoptic paradigm as a whole, in the development of Benthams philosophical and
political thought, shows that the Panopticon is a more diverse and reversible structure
than Foucault acknowledged. The Panopticon should be seen as a template, which can
and should be adapted to the specific circumstances of other parts of society, in which
methods of control are more complicated and accompanied by increasing exceptions to
continuous individual supervision. In order to show how Foucaults panopticism fits
less with Benthams other Panopticons, the three less-known types will briefly be
examined in the following paragraphs.
In the pauper-Panopticon, chronologically the second Panopticon and the most
similar to the prison-Panopticon, specific circumstances demanded different treatment,
leading Bentham to devise modifications to the building and management rules. The
variety within the pauper population, consisting of all ages and coming from a wide
variety of backgrounds and occupations, required a much greater degree of discrimi-
nation in treatment. Moreover, whilst prisoners were convicted criminals sent to jail by
judges and magistrates, the paupers entering the pauper-Panopticon (the industry
house) did so voluntarily. Consequently, most paupers could leave the pauper-
Panopticon whenever they wanted (although no one would enter a pauper-
Panopticon unless compelled by circumstances). However, according to the earn-first
principle, no pauper would be fed and could not leave the Panopticon until he had
completed his share of work (Schofield 2009). Also, children that were left in the
pauper-Panopticon to be taken care of could not leave until they turned 17 (for girls) or
19 (for boys).
On the other hand, certain groups of paupers were entitled to some
privacy on certain occasions, by means of blinds that could be drawn across divisions
(e.g. for marital sex, or seeking advice in certain situations from the Guardian
Elders’—the old paupers, supposedly immune to corruption, who constituted a type
of additional inspectorspresent in the paupersrooms, Schofield 2009). Nevertheless,
the pauper-Panopticon still fits Foucaults panopticism well-enough. In fact, due to
specific circumstances demanding different treatment, the pauper-Panopticon involved
more complex methods of control in some respects than the prison-Panopticon, such as
surveillance done by the Guardian Elders and through book-keeping and rules on
feeding and heating.
The third and fourth Panopticons have fewer panoptic and even anti-panoptic
features. The use of panoptic devices here is in fact less clear than with the first two.
The chrestomatic-Panopticon was a Panopticon-shaped school, where one inspecting
There are traditionally two schools of thought in Bentham studies: the authoritarian, which sees Bentham as
the master mind of authoritarian state control, and the liberal, which sees him as thinking in terms of rule of
law, aiming to promote civil and political rights. There is a deep-seated contradiction in Benthams writings;
Anne Brunon-Ernst, Introduction, in Beyond Foucault (2013), pp. 12; Schofield (2009), p. 71.
The idea was that they needed to Bearn back^the money spent for their upkeep, since the pauper-Panopticon,
as all Panopticons, needed to be financially viable to serve as a solution to the social and economic problems
of the time. Financial viability was a key challenge especially for the pauper-Panopticon and supposedly a key
reason for Bentham ultimately to discard the idea of the pauper-Panopticon.
Bentham, Deleuze and Beyond: An Overview of Surveillance Theories 13
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master could supervise around 600 pupils per room without being seen. The plan was
based on Benthamsscholar-teacher principle, whereby the more advanced pupils
taught the less advanced, for the greatest improvement of the minds of students and the
pockets of their parents(Brunon-Ernst 2013a,2123). Limits to panoptic control are
more obvious here: First, panoptic control is exercised only whilst the children are in
school; outside, they are out of reach of the panoptic gaze. Second, children were not
assigned to a fixed class structurethey could change categories and classes in
accordance with their age, subjects and level of achievement. Thus, specific forms of
panoptic control upon them can also change.
Panoptic features are least obvious in the constitutional-Panopticon, devised only 2 years
before Benthams death. First, it is no longer the few watching the many but the many
watching the few; citizens watch the governors (i.e. all those governing the citizens). The
panoptic inspection principleis thereby reversed, which is why certain scholars call this
form of the Panopticon the reversed or inverted Panopticon (Semple 1987;Leroy2002).
The focus is on governing functionaries, who are monitored through the use of more or less
panoptic methods, to ensure they act in a way to maximise pleasure and minimise pain, or in
other words, to prevent misrule. Second, as in the chrestomatic-Panopticon, the concept of
constant visibility does not applythe governors are monitored only in the course of their
public duties, and they can withdraw from the citizensgaze when they want to rest or enjoy
some privacy. The term Panopticon itself is not used in the Constitutional Code; nonethe-
less, the architectural arrangements are panoptic. The position of the prime minister is at the
centre of an oval-shaped building. Communication between the prime minister and his
ministers, as well as between ministers themselves, is carried out (as in the other
Panopticons) through communication tubes. Furthermore, each ministerial office is a
thirteen-sided polygon, with a public or private waiting room on each side for people
coming to visit the ministers. Although certain architectural designs remain in the constitu-
tional-Panopticon, the central inspection tower disappears as artefact and as metaphor.
Bentham believed that many places become monitored because the people ensure good
behaviour on part of their rulers through the instrument of publicity (transparency)
(Schofield 2009). In this, the newspaper has a key role, delivering information concerning
misrule amongst the people and examining and criticising misrule (Kaino 2008). Inspection
(surveillance) is thus no longer central but rather dispersed. In Benthams thought, the
panoptic physical building, initially used strategically as a local architectural device, thus
later becomes a universal monitoring tool in the wider project of ensuring good government.
It is primarily with the chrestomatic- and the constitutional-Panopticon that social
control moves beyond the margins of society and focuses on its heart and head:
middle-class children and members of the government(Brunon-Ernst, 2728). The
prison- and pauper-Panopticon could only reach the people inside the physical build-
ings with its panoptic control methods; people outside could only be reached with
traditional, non-panoptic methods (using language and law, including deterring func-
tion). Non-marginalised people, thus, were beyond the panoptic gaze. Have the pan-
optic characteristics, then, increased rather than decreased in the last two Panopticons,
Another example is Umberto Ecos pastiche of the Anopticon, a hexagonal building that effectuates the
principle of being able to be seen by everyone without seeing anyone.The Anopticons subject is a prison
guard who lives in a closed, central hexagonal room, unable to see anything other than a small circular portion
of sky, and who is observed by the prisoners freely walking around in the corridors surrounding the guards
room (from Bert-Jaap Koops, Law, Technology, and Shifting Power Relations, 2010,p.1035).
14 M. Galičet al.
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which allow a wider gaze? That is not the case. Although the gaze embraced a much
wider audience, it came with intentional limitations upon its panoptic powerit was
not continuous and all-seeing. In the chrestomatic- and constitutional-Panopticon, the
concept of constant visibility is reduced considerably: children were observed only
whilst in school and the governors only when performing their public duties. Further-
more, in the constitutional-Panopticon, the gaze is reversed to oversee the rulers. Also,
this is no longer done solely through architectural design but through dissemination of
information in newspapers, as well. Of course, the news is still dependent on the
architecture of the parliamentary building that enables the people to see what the
government is doing. Here, the act of watching is no longer described in sinister terms
such as central inspection, but in positive ones such as transparency and publicity.
These distinct features, some panoptic and others not, characterise what Brunon-Ernst
terms Benthams panoptic paradigm. The panoptic paradigm refers to Benthams
architectural projects operating as a model for governing the behaviour of individuals
and groups and the operations of social practices or institutions and having the potential
to function in non-disciplinary environments. This feature disqualifies the Panopticon
as a uniquely disciplinary (in the Foucauldian sense) machine, since the Panopticons,
rather than towards disciplinary power through architectural design, evolved more
towards Foucaults concept of governmentality (Brunon-Ernst 2013b, 36), a type of
powerinitially called curitédifferent from discipline in that it no longer seeks to
manage individual bodies but rather manages whole populations, trying to optimally
regulate social behaviour.
Benthams Panopticons are devised in such a way that
eventually no more Panopticons will be needed, and the panoptic age should be seen
only as a stage in the transition to a non-panoptic utilitarian era, where misrule is
minimised and pleasure maximised.
2.2 Foucaults Panopticism and Disciplinary Societies
The richness and variation within Benthams panoptic paradigm has been largely
overlooked in surveillance studies. This is because the Panopticon is mainly understood
through Foucaults analysis and use of the concept. It is relevant to look into why Foucaults
analysis of the Panopticon resonated in so many disciplines, for his analysis is not only
rehabilitating (specific parts of) Benthams work, but also building upon and extending it
into a broader perspective on power relations and networks in modern societies.
In analysing the Panopticon, Foucault drew exclusively on Benthams prison design. He
used the architecture and idea of the prison-Panopticon as a diagram, projecting it onto other
parts of society to analyse power relations and models of governing (Foucault 1991a). Being
a historian, Foucault in Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison explains that since
the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Western societies can be defined by a new form of
power that is capillary and affects the grain of individuals, touches their bodies and inserts
itself into their actions and attitudes, their discourses, learning processes and everyday lives
The concept of governmentality refers to the shift from the ad hoc governing of nature by the flow of nature
(famine, diseases etc.) to a more predictive and number-based, statistical approach through the calculation of
events and their impact on the population. For more on governmentality see Foucault, Security, Territory,
Population: Lectures at the Collège de France 19771978 (2007); Foucault, The Foucault Effect: Studies in
Governmentality (1991); Andrew Dilts and Bernard E. Harcourt, Discipline, Security, and Beyond: A Brief
Introduction (2008).
Bentham, Deleuze and Beyond: An Overview of Surveillance Theories 15
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(Foucault 1980, 39). In simpler terms, the Panopticon penitentiary system of governing has
become present and active in many or most aspects of Western societies. Yet, and this is
what Foucault tries to show through compelling examples, these systems often remain
hidden or unnoticed, precisely because they are found in the fibres of daily life, which is
what makes them so powerful and ubiquitous.
Through an analysis of different institutions, such as the school, the military, the
hospital and the factory, processes of action in daily life have been invaded with
Panoptical mechanisms of watching and being watched and, consequently, of disciplin-
ing power. When everybody can potentially be under surveillance, people will internal-
ise control, morals and valuesdiscipline is thus a type of power, a strategy and a kind
of technology. Accordingly, Foucault coined this type of society the disciplinaryor
disciplinesociety, which (in the West) has seen a development towards technocratic
approaches to governing. Foucaults study of power consisted of formal and evident
institutions, where the Panopticon was introduced as an idealsystem to discipline the
individual. Why was this so evocative? Foucault shifted the perspective from the goal of
governing to the mode of governing. The main goal is (still) to prosper as a society,
delineated by geography or nation state. The mode of governance, however, shifts from
a sovereign society (Foucault understood sovereign practices as seeking mainly to
affirm control over a territory and secure the loyalty of subjects, in a somewhat static
and rigid manner through binary prohibitions, see Valverde 2008) to one of discipline,
which represents a shift in method as well as in object, from populations to individuals.
In feudal and later sovereign societies, the question of power is linked to questions of
how to organise a population and its land to ensure continuity. By learning from
previous years about crop income, for example, or the spread of famine or disease, a
sovereign can learn and predict, either to invest in food reserves or trade more crop with
neighbouring states,or to control disease by disallowing citizens to travel, whereby early
forms of predictive modelling were used to rule the state (Foucault 2007). Statistics, after
all, means numbers of the state. A key difference between modern Western societies that
Foucault characterises as disciplinary and sovereign societies lies in the type of power at
work. In the sovereign society, the sovereign is the one key decider and holder of power
and (s)he is known and visiblein terms of power signals, such as by decree of the
King. In the disciplinary society, power is dispersed and hidden in processes of
conformity present in different places of society. Because of these characteristics,
discipline is not an exclusive machinery of the State; rather, it moves across different
institutions, it links and prolongs them, making them converge and function in a new
way (Deleuze 2006). Although this power operates somewhat independently from the
judicial and government apparatus, it nevertheless requires institutions and the state,
since it works through them—‘the state, correctional institutions, and medical institu-
tions [need to] be regarded as coagulations of practices(Valverde 2008,18).
Foucault explains that a phenomenon closely linked and resulting from the disciplining
process, is normation. By this, he means the processes that force and create habits, rituals
and how things are done, thereby creating norms of behaviour.
In normation processes,
The perpetual penalty that traverses all points and supervises every instant in the disciplinary institutions,
compares, differentiates, hierarchizes, homogenizes, excludes. In short, it normalizes.In Foucault, Discipline
and Punish (1991), p. 183 (emphasis in original). See also Foucault, Security, Territory, Population lectures
at the college de France, 19771978 (2007), pp. 57, where he explains the difference between normation and
16 M. Galičet al.
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the norm is central. It constitutes what one has to conform to and strive for; it is both
standard and ideal. Being regarded as normal is to conform to the norm, hence to occupy
the position of the invisible, i.e. unmarked by difference construed as abnormality, and
putative universal subject. The abnormal is the one deemed deficient and inferior in
relation to the norm(al) (Dalibert 2013). This is specifically linked to the individual body,
as Foucault argues that disciplining the individual body is a governmental utopia, where
discipline produces subjected and practiced, docilebodies (Foucault 1991b). As the
body is subjected to discipline, it is ordered, subjected to normation. In Foucaults
understanding, normation is intrinsic to mechanisms disciplining the body, in which
technologies are central (Foucault 2007,referredtoinDalibert2013,69).
The process of individualisation in disciplinary societies is what Foucault called
descending,asopposedtoascending, in feudal or sovereign societies (Foucault 1980).
He explains that in the latter, the overall status of a society, e.g. its total production or
health, was an aggregated, collective rather than an individual concern, thereby leaving
room for individuals to diversify and develop within the parameters of collective ideals.
In contrast, in disciplinary societies, processes of administration focus on individual
rather than aggregated actions, rituals and habits, leading to a de-diversification of
individual behaviour. Through the shifting focus, individuals are continuously measured
against the norm; they become fictional, representative, as they have to be registered and
held against a fictional norm. The sovereign power as the key decider and holder of
power becomes less visible, and power structures are relocated and replaced by different
institutions (schools, hospitals, etc.) in which behaviour is being watched.
Foucault continues that one method and a key indicator of disciplinary societies is
found in many institutions that uphold and apply the norm: the exam. The exam
incorporates the power of discipline because it tests according to a scientificmethod
the suitability of individuals against a norm. Through different methods of bureaucracy
and sequences of how to do things, bodies get disciplined. For instance, the army
applies extensive training and testing on using guns, hospitals on procedures of
treatment and schools on writing and handling a pen correctly. The product or goal
of these disciplining methods is to create docile bodies. This makes for even more
predictive and plannable societies in which docile bodies have become units of
information, not communication. Here, the link becomes clear with Benthamsprison
architecture: it is a one-way street in which individuals are mouldable and re-
Modernity then, in the form of disciplinary societies, is formed by the
advent of scientific methods of registration, record-keeping and normation through
exams. Docile individuals are no longer governed as actors with whom they commu-
nicate, but as units of information that can be moulded. Surveillance is a key concept
here because this moulding and re-shaping is a result of the visibility of individuals
competenciesthrough exams and record-keeping of their progress. Foucault briefly
mentions, but does not elaborate upon, resistance to disciplining power, by stating that
the entanglements of power also give rise to scattered points of resistance that have no
cause but power itself, which they resist (Foucault 1998).
The above leads to a way of thinking and applying the concept of the Panopticon as
a metaphor to describe a phenomenon that has been coined panopticism. Specifically in
The Panopticon was also a laboratory; it could be used as a machine to carry out experiments to alter
behaviour, to train and correct individuals.From Foucault, Discipline and Punish (1991), p. 203.
Bentham, Deleuze and Beyond: An Overview of Surveillance Theories 17
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relation to the rise of CCTV cameras, Foucaults analysis of a methodical and objective
observer holding disciplining power resonated very well. Indeed, the watcher cannot be
seen, and there is a constant (mediated) gaze that, like the watcher in the watchtower,
might see everything. Normation and internalisation of doing goodare achieved
through cameras, and citizens in public space can thus be moulded into behaving
according to the norm. The footage can be stored, allowing the watcher to be omni-
presentnot only in space, as in Benthams prison design, but also in time. CCTV
seemed the perfect example to prove Foucaults analysis being spot-on, which might
help explain the wide resonance of his theory.
However, there are features of CCTV and other forms of electronic surveillance for
which the Panoptical model cannot account, simply because under the influence of ICT,
society and its institutions have changed radically from those in Foucaults analysis.
Foucault already laid the basis for going beyond the disciplinary society by discussing
control societies that would be the result of new technologies and their connected methods
of surveillance. Control societies continue the de-individualisation that Foucault sketched
but evolve into de-humanisation. What this means is that, whilst the infrastructures of
discipline in schools and hospitals are normative and shaping behaviour, they still involve
a recognition of individuals as human subjects via the representative norm in particular
settings; in contrast, in a control society, individuals are not targeted directly as human
subjects, but rather through representations. The system of power lies less with founda-
tional and formal institutions and more with ad hoc and informal networks; it works via
representations that communicate and decide internally. As a result, control societies not
only exercise a different method of governing and as such form a fault-line in thinking
about surveillance and the types of societies that surveillance creates. In the following
section, we will discuss post-Panoptical concepts that try to deal with this shift towards
electronic forms of surveillance and the kind of societies these produce.
3 Phase 2: Post-Panoptical Theories and Concepts
The predominance of the panoptical approach to surveillance has led surveillance
scholars to advocate discarding the Panopticon when theorizing surveillance today
(e.g. Haggerty 2006; Murakami Wood 2007; Lyon 2008). This section features authors
who try to develop alternative theoretical frameworks to the Panopticon as the primary
model to conceptualise surveillance in modern Western societies. Deleuze, although
closely connected to Foucault,
takes a fundamentally different direction in thinking
about how and where discipline and control can be found and analysed. They share
with Haggerty and Ericson an attempt to find other places of analysis. Deleuze and
Guattari locate new places of surveillance in a physically and technologically changed
environment, whilst Haggerty and Ericson look particularly at new combinations of
humans and technology that exercise forms of surveillance. In a neo-Marxist strand of
surveillance theory, Zuboff sketches the contours of another theoretical framework,
Foucault and Deleuze took part in many public debates together and published several works together,
including Deleuze and Foucault, Les Intellectuels et le Pouvoir (1972), LArc, 49, 310. Deleuze also wrote
extensively about Foucaults ideas, see Deleuze, Foucault (2006); Deleuze, Désir et plaisir (Deleuze 1994),
English translation available at: (accessed 02 April 2016).
18 M. Galičet al.
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surveillance capitalism, analysing how surveillance changes power structures in the
information economy. These authors thus challenge the units of analysis in the works of
Bentham and Foucault, arguing that new analytical tools are needed, and they therewith
establish a post-Panoptic stream of surveillance theory.
3.1 Deleuzes Control Society: From Governments to Companies
A team of post-structuralist thinkers responded to, and partly built on, Foucault, stating
that the objects of study today require a different analysis, now the power dynamics
between institutions and individuals are no longer so delineated as they were in Foucaults
analysis. Deleuze observed that Foucauldian institutions and their ways of disciplining no
longer existed, or at least were shifting into other modes of surveillance and exercising
power. Deleuze, partly in collaboration with Guattari, further developed the shift, already
described to some extent by Foucault, from disciplinary societies towards societies of
control (Deleuze and Guattari 1987; Deleuze 1992). Although the Panopticon is not
explicitly discussed nor dismissed, these authors diverge from Panoptical thinking by
instead proposing a series of new places of power to conclude that the socio-technical
landscape has changed. Especially in the short but high-impact piece Postscript on the
Societies of Control, Deleuze specifically dismisses the idea of discipline as a goal or
driving force of governing; rather, it has to be found in forms of control.
Deleuze considers how the driving forces of capitalism and globalisation are
changing (Western) societies and how institutions such as the school, the hospital or
the factory have become corporations. The difference lies in the process and the
method. Where discipline aims to achieve a long-term, stable and docile society
striving for the optimal use of resources to reach government-issued goals, corporations
focus on short-term results. In order to do so, they need constant control, and this is
achieved via continuous monitoring and assessment of markets, workforces, strategies,
etc. The corporation is a fundamentally different being than the nation-state, because it
does not strive for progress of society as a whole; it tries instead to control certain
specific parts ofincreasingly internationalmarkets. To illustrate, the point is not to
create a good and steady carpenter, but to know how and where to put a nail in a piece
of wood as efficiently as possible. The carpenter has become a coded figure of
corporation (Deleuze 1992), which means that his skills could be valuable 1 day, but,
as markets change, useless the next. This is dubbed modulation (Deleuze 1992,2),
where systems or institutions are constantly changing and thereby also changing the
fibres of society. A difference with Foucaults Panopticon is that these modulations take
place in ways that are often invisible for the subjects or citizens. Where discipline for
Foucault was effective because of its visibility and its active (yet involuntary) partic-
ipationyou have to work/pass the exam/abide by rule XDeleuze states that mod-
ulations happen in invisible or opaque networks that are unperceivable to individual
citizens. As a result, surveillance also moves away from being a present and often
physical force on individuals, to become more abstract and numerical:
The disciplinary societies have two poles: the signature that designates the individ-
ual, and the number or administrative numeration that indicates his or her position
within a mass. This is because the disciplines never saw any incompatibility
between these two, and because at the same time power individualizes and masses
Bentham, Deleuze and Beyond: An Overview of Surveillance Theories 19
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together, that is, constitutes those over whom it exercises power into a body and
molds the individuality of each member of that body. [] In the societies of control,
on the other hand, what is important is no longer either a signature or a number, but
a code: the code is a password, while on the other hand disciplinary societies are
regulated by precepts.(Deleuze 1992, 179180)
From watchwords in disciplinary societies to passwords in control societies, the
point made by Deleuze in relation to surveillance is that individuals becomes less
relevant as subjects of surveillance; it is no longer actual persons and their bodies that
matter or that need to be subjected and disciplined, but rather the individualsrepre-
sentations. It is the divided individualconsumers and their purchasing behaviour
who has become important to monitor and control. Deleuze coins this the dividual.
Where society is becoming fragmented, so does the individual; the Panopticon blurs
and the individual is split up into pieces, with the power of consumerism demanding all
kinds of attention from citizen-consumers. In a Deleuzian society, the point is no longer
making bodies docile, but to mould consumers, whose data-bodies become more
important than their real bodies. Where Foucault would talk about the shift in power,
from taking life or let livetowards an administration of life (bio-power) to foster or
disallow life, Deleuze states that power has taken another shift towards controlling
access. Consequently, Deleuzian places of interest are airports and borders, as access
points (something taken up in later conceptualisations, see Section 4.1).
The notion of the dividual and the turn to access points as an object of study mark, a
post-Foucauldian direction, and to some extent the beginning of surveillance studies
as a discipline beyond the mere understanding of panopticism. The Deleuzian notion of
the dividual directs the gaze not towards individuals as complete or uniform beings, but
rather towards individuals as entities with many roles, represented in many different
places (data-banks). Where Foucault studied closed spaces and enclosed institutions,
such as the factory, the prison or the hospital, striving to make individual bodies docile,
Deleuze focuses on open spaces and points attention to control at a distance, using
technologies of power that reform bodies (and minds) through daily regimes instigated
by those in power. Where Deleuze can be seen as the founding father of post-Panoptical
literature, he did so in a time when computers and the Internet were not yet as prevalent
as they would become in the late 1990s and 2000s. The insight of looking at networks
of power and the decoupling of individualsbodies and their representations became a
main inspiration and source for other surveillance scholars to build on, when computer
technologies became more ubiquitous.
3.2 Haggerty and Ericsons Surveillant Assemblage: Taking Down the Panopticon
Two of the earliest and harshest critics of Foucaults Panopticon metaphor to analyse
contemporary surveillance are Kevin Haggerty and Richard Ericson. In their influential
paper The surveillant assemblage(Haggerty and Ericson 2000), they state that the
panoptic metaphor should not be over-stretched beyond recognition when trying to
capture the new and different forms of surveillance today; rather, a new set of analytical
tools is required. For several reasons, contemporary surveillance fundamentally differs
from past surveillance for which the Panopticon was an appropriate metaphor, from
Benthams eighteenth-century Panopticons to modern-networked societies around
20 M. Galičet al.
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1960. First, the panoptic model fit the idea of disciplinary societies, in which the
primary purpose of surveillance is productive soul training: repression and productive
development of modern selves, instilling the requirements of industrial capitalism in
individuals themselves (Haggerty 2006). Second, in this model, a disproportionate level
of surveillance was oriented towards the underclass, the poor and marginalised, leaving
the mainstream unmonitored. Third, surveillance was limited to contained, physical
spaces of total institutions, such as prisons, hospitals, schools and factories, and was
generally seen as discretely bounded, structured and stable. And fourth, surveillance
was done primarily by humans (although specific architectures were used in order to
enhancehuman monitoring capabilities). In order to provide a new set of analytical
tools to capture contemporary surveillance, Haggerty and Ericson proposed the concept
of surveillant assemblage,forwhichtheydrewinspirationfromDeleuzeand
Guattaris concept of assemblagesand the idea of control societies. The shift in focus
from territorial to de-territorialised forms of social control can be described as post-
Panoptic (Bogard 2006).
Deleuze and Guattari defined assemblages as a multiplicity of heterogenous objects,
whose unity comes solely from the fact that these items function together, that they
work together as a functional entity(Haggerty and Ericson 2000). Beyond this
functional entity, with a stability only on the surface, assemblages comprise of discrete
flows of an essentially limitless range of phenomena, such as people, signs, chemicals,
knowledge and institutions. These fluid and mobile flows become fixed into more or
less stable and asymmetrical arrangementsassemblages, visualised as devices
hosting opaque flows of auditory, olfactory, visual and informational stimuli. These
assemblages turn into systems of domination allowing someone or something to direct
or govern actions of others; the inevitability of transformation is key to thinking in
terms of assemblage (Murakami Wood 2013). Surveillant assemblages can hence be
seen as recording machines, since their task is to capture flows and convert them into
reproducible events. Haggerty and Ericson used this concept, because they identified
contemporary surveillance to be emergent, unstable and lacking discernible boundaries
or accountable governmental departments, so that it cannot be criticised by focusing on
single, confined bureaucracies or institutions. Thus, for example, they can include
bottom-up surveillance reminiscent of Benthams constitutional-Panopticon, with the
many watching the few, although they admit that surveillance of the powerful is often
a mile wile but only an inch deep(Haggerty and Ericson 2000,609).Thus,thisnew,
post-panoptic surveillance:
(1) is driven by the desire to bring systems together, leading to an increased conver-
gence of formerly discrete surveillance systems and an exponential increase in
surveillance capacity;
(2) is increasingly growing and spreading by expanding its uses for purposes of control,
governance, security, profit and entertainment, and with the help of new and
intensified technological capabilities, particularly the rise of computerised databases;
(3) has a levelling effect on hierarchies of surveillance, due to new target populations
being monitored with new and intensified technological possibilities;
(4) works across state as well as non-state institutions;
(5) is primarily directed towards human bodies that are understood as a hybrid
compositiona flesh-technology-information amalgam; and
Bentham, Deleuze and Beyond: An Overview of Surveillance Theories 21
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(6) relies on machines to make and record discrete observations (Haggerty and
Ericson 2000).
Due to its ever-increasing growth and expanding uses of surveillance, its level-
ling effect on hierarchies of surveillance and its regenerative qualities, surveillance
has been described as rhizomatic, another concept taken from Deleuze and Guattari.
(Rhizomes are plants that grow in surface extensions through interconnected ver-
tical root systemsthis way of growing is contrasted with arborescent plants,
which have a deep root structure and grow along branchings from the trunk.).
These new characteristics of surveillance fit well with the idea of a control society
replacing the disciplinary society, in which citizens are no longer subject to disci-
plinary or simple repressive modes of surveillance in confined spaces (with power
as an element of the interior of separated spaces, see Romein and Schuilenburg
2008); rather, citizens are being increasingly constituted as (merely or primarily)
consumers seduced into the market economy. Hence, surveillance today is used
increasingly to construct and monitor consumption patterns (rather than perform
soul training), constructing consumer profiles in order to limit access to places and
information, leading to the offering or refusal of social perks, such as credit ratings
or rapid movement through customs. Because of this leading purpose of contem-
porary surveillance, monitoring is often directed towards the human body for the
purpose of canalising access to places and information and allowing for the
production of consumer profiles through the ex post facto reconstruction of peoples
behaviour, habits and actions. Such surveillance takes place in two consecutive
steps: de-territorialisation and re-assembly. The body is first broken down, abstract-
ed from its physical setting, only to then be re-assembled in different settings
through a series of data flows. The result is a decorporealised body, more mobile
and measurable than its physical counterpart, re-assembled in the by now well-
known data double(Haggerty and Ericson 2000,611).Thedatadouble,however,
goes beyond representation of our physical selvesit does not matter whether the
double actually corresponds to the realbody. The data double constitutes an
additional self, a functional hybrid(Hier 2002, 400), serving foremost the purpose
of being useful to institutions, which allow or deny access to a multitude of domains
(places, information, things) and discriminate between people. The doubles flow
through a host of scattered centres of calculation(e.g. forensic laboratories,
statistical institutions, police stations, financial institutions and corporate and mil-
itary headquarters) in which they are re-assembled and scrutinised for developing
strategies of administration, commerce and control; however, the whole system is
based on the (capitalist) idea of surplus valueor, in this case, surplus informa-
tion. The chief idea is that from all the data that people generate in daily behaviour
(using credit cards, browsing the Internet, using smartphone applications, working,
travelling, walking on the street, etc.), profit should be made.
In the 2006, the paper Tear down the walls: on demolishing the Panopticon,
Haggerty offers additional or different characteristics of contemporary surveillance
than discussed in the 2000 paper with Ericson; this might be seen as a (partial) critique
of the concept of the surveillant assemblage. First, he emphasises the proliferation of
new purposes of surveillance, giving numerous examples: deterrence, consumption,
entertainment, titillation, health promotion, education, governance, accountability,
22 M. Galičet al.
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child-rearing and military conquest (Haggerty 2006). Because these uses are not
necessarily established in advance but are emergent, resulting from the creative insights
of individuals who envision novel possibilities for systems developed for entirely different
purposes, it is increasingly difficult to suggest that surveillance serves a single coherent
purpose such as social control, or even a limited set of purposes. Moreover, surveillance can
also be enjoyable, since both watching and exposing oneself can be pleasant entertainment
activities at times, even playing a role in identity formation. On the other hand, although
there is undeniably a greater visual and documentary scrutiny of the powerful today than at
any point in the past, Haggerty admits that surveillance continues to play an important role
in establishing and reinforcing social inequalities (Haggerty 2006). Haggerty also empha-
sises that the focus on people as targets of surveillance (covering both human bodies and
non-physical representations) neglects an enormous volume of surveillance, in which
humans are implicated only in a tangential fashion, such as satellite imaging, in which
the planet and nature are being monitored. And last, Haggerty highlights the fact that
awareness of surveillance is no longer required for most prominent surveillance projects to
achieve their goals; many even require secrecy, e.g. dataveillance (surveilling peoples
behaviour through the increasingly intensive data trails that their behaviour generates, see
Clarke 1988). With these additional thoughts on contemporary surveillance, a somewhat
amended concept of the surveillant assemblage, as seen by Haggerty, emerges, one that
deals with surveillance and its effects in a more neutral (less negative) way.
This overview of surveillant assemblages and the characteristics of contemporary
surveillance demonstrates a quantitative turn towards people and other surveilled
phenomena. It is no longer (physical) individuals who needs to become visible and
controlled, rather, the focus is on their data doubles (who need not be a double at all),
the data that individuals leave behind and are then re-assembled according to the
purpose it is supposed to serve. Data about us, this pure virtuality,isalmostuncon-
trollably flowing in cyberspace (a conceptual space within ICTs, combining
technologies of the Internet, virtual reality and conventional telecommunications,
along with emerging hybrid spaces, see Dodge and Kitchin 2011) through different
databases, inviting the linking of these different sources flows of data, or what Lyon
calls leaky containers(2001). If surveillance is something not given but changeable, a
mode of orderingresponding to problems of government (Law 1992) but also
something broader, a network of power and knowledge relations (in accordance with
Foucaults thinking), surveillance should no longer be seen as relatively stable and
physically contained, but as a malleable, fluid and unstable phenomenon, ever-flowing
through cyberspace, perceptible to people as multiple surveillant assemblages (control
networks, control circuits or Little sisters(Romein and Schuilenburg 2008,347).In
other words, surveillance has become de-territorialised, operating as a heterogeneous
network of elements and spreading rhizomatically (Murakami Wood 2013). Social
control today is, thus, decentralised and shape-shiftingit is not focused just on
collecting information but on decoding and recoding, sorting, altering, circulating and
re-playing information (Bogard 2006). However, as Haggerty pointed out, surveillance
studies tend to neglect surveillance practices that might be accepted as a positive
development (e.g. in science and medicine). The expanded networked controlshould
not be perceived as a purely negative concept, but as one that also offers possibilities
for entertainment, pleasure and counter-power, and moreover, one that also facilitates
de-territorialised forms of resistance as a function of its own organisation.
Bentham, Deleuze and Beyond: An Overview of Surveillance Theories 23
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3.3 Surveillance Capitalism
A third and relatively recent strand in theorising surveillance from a post-panoptic
perspective is (neo-)Marxist surveillance theory. Connecting the thought of Marx to
surveillance is not entirely new (see Fuchs 2012a for an overview). In fact, Marx
himself saw surveillance as a fundamental aspect of the capitalist economy and the
modern nation state, understanding surveillance as both an economic and a political
concept (Fuchs 2012b). Surveillance is thus a coercive and technological method for
controlling and disciplining workers, but it is also a political process of domination,
which includes a potential for counter-surveillance through the press. Some scholars
have started to apply the stages of Marxs cycle of capital accumulation to the concept
and practices of surveillance: applicant surveillance in the stage of capital circulation;
workplace, workforce and property surveillance in the stage of capital production; and
consumer surveillance and surveillance of competitors in the cycle of circulation
(Allmer 2012; Fuchs 2012a). Other scholars, such as Mathiesen, Andrejevic and Ogura,
are implicitly or explicitly deploying Marxist concepts such as exploitation, class,
fetishism, ideology critique or culture industry in their analysis of surveillance.
Within the strand of (neo-)Marxist approaches to surveillance, the contours of a
theoretical framework are emerging that is somewhat similar to Haggerty and Ericsons
surveillant assemblage, but which goes further in conceptualising surveillance as a
dominant and overarching feature of capitalist society. This framework can be called
surveillance capitalism, a term possibly first used by Bellamy and McChesney (2014),
but more thoroughly developed and disseminated by Zuboff (2015,2016). Although
surveillance capitalism is not yet fully developed as a theory, Zuboff (2015)islayinga
foundation for a new all-encompassing theory
at a civilizational scale,attemptingto
explain a new type of social relations and economic-political system that produce their
own conceptions and uses of authority and power. Such an overarching theory is
needed, because [t]odays surveillance complex aligned with an economic base en-
thralled with the prospects of metadata appears too strong for meaningful reforms
without significant shifts in larger economic foundations(Price 2014).
Surveillance capitalism is a new subspecies of (information) capitalism that has gradually
constituted itself during the last decade, in which profits derive from the unilateral
surveillance and modification of human behavior(Zuboff 2016). This new type of
capitalism is said to have been hijacked by surveillance, which now has a wholly new
logic of accumulation fitting a networked worldaiming to predict and modify human
behaviour as a means to produce revenue and market control (Zuboff 2015). Zuboffs
surveillance capitalism thus signals a new era of capitalism with a new dominant logic of
accumulation, claiming that the contemporary, very lucrative surveillance project subverts
and corrupts the normal evolutionary mechanisms of capitalismthe unity of supply and
demand that, however imperfectly, catered to the genuine needs of populations and societies
and enabled the fruitful expansion of market democracy (Zuboff 2016). In contrast,
Stated by David Lyon at CPDP in January 2016, 2016: Surveillance capitalism: a new societal condition
rising (video available at 0Fr7zl9NA7s, accessed 02 Apr il 2016); also
see Zuboffs 2016 forthcoming book, Masteror Slave: The Fight for the Soul of Our Information Civilization,
to be published by Eichborn in Germany and Public Affairs in the U.S.
24 M. Galičet al.
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surveillance-based capitalism no longer has any connection or interest in the needs of
populations, societies or states.
What is called big data is the foundational component of this new economic logic,
which is based on prediction and its monetizationselling access to the real-time flow of
peoples daily life in order to directly influence and modify their behaviour for profit. The
pervasive and ubiquitous recording of all daily transactions also means that the market is
no longer unknowable as it still is in classical liberalism; rather, it is becoming transparent
and knowable in new ways (Zuboff 2015;Varian2014). It comes as no surprise that
Google is seen as the ideal type of the new economic logic and commercial model.
Zuboff identifies four key features of the emerging logic of capital accumulation, in
which she explicitly follows the four new usesemanating from computer-mediated
transactions identified by Googles Chief Economist, Hal Varian (Varian 2014). First,
the insatiable appetite for data extraction and analysis (data mining), commonly known
as big data, illustrates the two possibly most crucial features of surveillance capitalism:
formal indifference and functional (or structural) independence. Formal indifference
represents the asymmetric nature of data extraction, which occurs in the absence of
dialogue or (freely given and informed) consent. Functional independence breaks with
the twentieth-century corporation model, since there are no structural reciprocities
between the firm and its primary populations (durable careers for employees, long-
term relationships with customers, Zuboff 2015). Instead, firms like Google rely on
algorithms to manage their core services and on relationships with third parties (adver-
tisers and intermediaries) for their revenue. The infrastructure of surveillance capitalism,
built on big data with its goal of prediction and behaviour modification, eliminates the
need foror possibility offeedback loops between the firm and its users.
Second, surveillance capitalism involves real-time monitoring of contractual perfor-
mance along with real-time, technology-enabled enforcement of the contract (Zuboff
2015). In a world where such a system of contractual monitoring and enforcement is the
norm, habitats inside and outside the human body are saturated with data and produce
radically distributed opportunities for observation, interpretation, communication, in-
fluence, prediction and ultimately modification of the totality of action,establishinga
new architecture from which there is no escape, making the Panopticon seem prosaic.
Where power was previously identified with ownership of means of production, it is
now constituted by ownership of means of behavioural modification (Zuboff 2015,82).
Third, services are personalised and customised, telling you what you want or need to
know (even before you know it yourself). This feature produces substantial new
asymmetries of knowledge and power (Zuboff 2015, 83). Fourth, the technological
infrastructure allows for and requires continual experimentation and intervention into
userslives. Since big data analysis yields only correlations, continual experimentation
should attempt to tease out causality. A textbook example is Facebooksexperimentto
secretly influence its usersmood. Thus, behaviour is subjugated to commodification
and monetisation(Zuboff 2015, 85), which is the dominating logic of twenty-first-
century market dynamics.
Zuboff would be first to admit that these contours of surveillance capitalism require
further theorisation and development. Nevertheless, what she tries to show is that
surveillance as a key part of the new logic of accumulation goes well-beyond privacy
considerations. She tries to show that it threatens democracy itself, because it does
away with the political canon of the modern liberal order, which was defined by the
Bentham, Deleuze and Beyond: An Overview of Surveillance Theories 25
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foundational principles of self-determinationin individualsprivate life and social
relations, politics and governance.
4 Phase 3: Contemporary Conceptualisationsthe Branching Out
of Surveillance Theory
The previous section featured authors attempting to get away from the Panopticon
model. The idea of internalisation of control via one-directional top-down architectures
of surveillance no longer seemed to fit contemporary societies mainly because Foucault
did not, and could not, include electronic layers of surveillance, which was the main
focus of authors in phase 2. In this light, surveillance seems a technology-dependent
concept; ideas about surveillance shift along with new technologies that challenge
existing forms of societal organisation and governance. But does that imply there are no
anchor points that go beyond theories running after each technological trend? Describ-
ing surveillance in relation only to the latest technological trend to then analyse how
this differs from the former situation, might not be enough to make us understand and
potentially change the way we deal with different forms of surveillance in society.
The problem of surveillance theory here is that the increase in size and complexity of
surveillance practices seems to make it almost impossible to develop an over-arching
theory of surveillance that captures surveillance as a largely unitary concept or phe-
nomenon, as in FoucaultsorDeleuzes theories. Rather, surveillance theory in what we
can call phase 3, which builds on but also moves beyond the Panopticon and digital
surveillant networks and assemblages, branches out in different directions. Thus, the
third phase is characterised not so much by comprehensive theories, but rather by
particular surveillance concepts or diagrams (Elmer 2003) studied in specific contexts
or case studies. In phase 3, surveillance scholars re-visit and build on concepts and
theories from phases 1 and 2. The shift in analysis from disciplinary to control societies,
for instance, is relatively young, and it would be cutting corners to dismiss Foucaults
analysis of centuries of development in European history merely because our socio-
technical lifeworld has changed in recent decades. On the other hand, surveillance does
remain closely linked to technologies, and the on-going development of technological
tools implies that concepts of surveillance do need to be regularly re-visited and re-
thought, to offer relevant perspectives on how our world takes shape. In this section, we
give examples of the different ways in which surveillance theories and concepts of
phases 1 and 2 are being used and re-visited. Whilst a comprehensive overview is
impossible to give here, we think the examples chosen are illustrative of the different
directions in which surveillance theory is branching out from the previous phases.
4.1 New Forms of Panopticons
After 9/11, the surveillance industry has vastly increased in both form and content. The
Snowden revelations have shown that nation-states conduct mass surveillance of
communications, of both foreign and domestic citizens. They have done so all too
See (accessed
04 April 2016).
26 M. Galičet al.
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often in conjunction with commercial parties and service providers. Furthermore, the
emergence of social media has made the roles of watcher and watched and power
relations in society more diffusewe are letting ourselves be watched collectively and
(seemingly) voluntarily, and we eagerly watch each other and the watchers. The
Panopticon as a metaphor could still be productive to explain how surveillance works
and what it does, albeit in adjusted forms. As David Lyon, a leading author in the field,
states: we cannot evade some interaction with the Panopticon, either historically, or in
todays analyses of surveillance(Lyon 2006, 4). This, he claims, is due to the ever-
growing presence of watching and being watchedthrough all kinds of new
Where the Panopticon idea and the goal of creating docile subjects have spread
from the prison to, for instance, the workplace and governments for reasons of
productivity and efficiency, they have also travelled to softerforms, such as
entertainment and marketing. Through reality shows and YouTube, to be watched
is even becoming an asset and a social norm (the YouTube-logic is: the more
views the better). Lyon (2007) calls this panopticommodityand Whitaker (1999)
frames it participatory Panopticon, by which they conceptually try to project
ideas of watching and being watched as a form of discipline onto current,
contemporary manifestations of what is basically Foucaults panoptic principle.
Bruno Latour also delved into surveillance concepts by coining the Oligopticon;
governance has thus consisted of a set of partial vantage points from fixed positions
with limited view sheds(Latour as cited in Dodge and Kitchin 2011,85).Eachofthese
sheds has its own particular gaze and its own methods and related technologies
things’—through which it operates. The partial vantage points of the Oligopticon,
however, are increasingly linked as databases are connected. Moreover, the number of
vantage points has increased post-9/11 (think of Deleuzian points of surveillance
access or checkpoints that citizens encounter in daily life). Bigo (2006), in an attempt to
conceptualise 9/11 and what it did to notions of control, freedom and security, has
coined the term BANopticon. Instead of monitoring and tracking individuals or groups
to capture misbehaviour, the BANopticon aims at keeping all the bad ones out; it bans
all those who do not conform to the rules of entry or access in a particular society. He
points out that a series of events, most prominently the 9/11 attacks, have triggered a
(constant) state of uneaseand an American-imposed idea of global in-security(Bigo
2006, 49). This leads to a rhetoric of better safe than sorryunder which an increase of
surveillance measures could take place. This rhetoric also paved the way for experi-
mentation with new surveillance technologies, such as body scanners at airports, and
the accelerated introduction of biometric passports and experiments with motion
tracking at Schiphol Airport (van der Ploeg 2003), for instance. Most of these measures
are situated in Deleuzian access points, such as airports and border controls. Some
scholars point out that societies emerging after 9/11 can be termed true surveillance
societies, in which every citizen is a potential threat needing to be monitored (i.e. Lyon
2001). In that sense, the Panopticon as a diagram re-emerges; the access points create
again a confined and bordered space where both visitors and inmates suffer a constant
gaze. Lyon (2006) states that we do not have to dismiss the idea of the Panopticon, but
that other sources of theory can also be found. This can help in creating more balanced
and more informed analyses of current surveillance practices and/or to re-frame
phenomena into refined theories or concepts of surveillance.
Bentham, Deleuze and Beyond: An Overview of Surveillance Theories 27
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4.2 Building on Deleuze: Dataveillance and Social Sorting
Another contemporary branch in surveillance studies, featuring in both surveillance
studies and media studies, elaborates the notion of dataveillance. As mentioned earlier,
Clarke (1988) coined the term dataveillance to indicate that through computational means
and digital information, it has become easier for governing actors to trace individuals or
groups than was possible with the previous, often expensive and heavyforms of
architectural or institutional surveillance. Although databases existed before the computer,
they involved equally heavy, analogue methods of gathering and storing information.
Moreover, present forms of surveillance potentially have more impact and shaping power
on citizensdaily life than pre-Internet paper-based data entries because of the accessi-
bility of digital databases and the relative ease of combining and sharing different types of
data (Marx 2002). This has many implications for surveillance, because both in type and
in amount information in these databases about different aspects of citizenslives has
vastly grown in recent decades. Recalling Deleuzes notion of the dividual, these different
aspects represent parts of an individual, interesting for different actors for different
reasons. A temporal difference with Deleuzes analysis in the 1980s is that it is becoming
increasingly unclear for individuals where their data resides, what kinds of correlations
and profiles are being made and who is using this data for which purposes. Besides, many
current data entries are not obligatory or forcedoften people provide them happily and
voluntarilywhich makes it difficult to analyse dataveillance in terms of a digital
Panopticon or as disciplining power. Data use has become opaque and the clear connec-
tion between guard and inmate, watcher and watched, is lost. The role of the Internet and
new media in society has been acknowledged and researched by (amongst others) media
and surveillance scholars, who argue that the ways in which we lead our life has
rigorously changed. However, despite the prevalence of dataveillance and mass-
surveillance of communication by governments and companies alike, the question wheth-
er and to what extent dataveillance actually alters society and public life in terms of
discipline or control has yet to be answered. Productive surveillance concepts to be
applied in this context are social sorting and adjacent concepts such as profiling, data
doubles and predictive policing (to name a few).
Social sorting stems from a fear of others (Bigo 2006; Lyon 2003). To exemplify,
several studies have been performed to explore social sorting empirically in the context
of CCTV (Lyon 2003;Dubbeld2005), showing that, despite increased reliance on
software and protocol, social sorting still occurs often as a result of a white, male gaze
in the CCTV control room, having a particular bias that leads to certain profiles of
deviance. With the coming of more forms of automated surveillance, social-sorting
processes might be more hidden or transposed into algorithms. The proponents of
computerised and automated forms of surveillance foresee more objectivity: they argue
that social sorting and arbitrary judgement, being a result of human (mis)judgments and
prejudice, could be replaced by objectivesoftware. In contrast, Galloway (2004)and
others, in line with critical, Marxist
perspectives, do not believe that technological
See for example, Fuchs and Mosco, Introduction: Marx is Back The Importance of Marxist Theory and
Research for Critical Communication Studies Today (2012); Fuchs, New Marxian Times! Reflections on the
4th ICTs and Society Conference BCritique, Democracy and Philosophy in 21st Century Information Society.
Towards Critical Theories of Social Media^(2012a).
28 M. Galičet al.
Content courtesy of Springer Nature, terms of use apply. Rights reserved.
sorting will be fairerthan human-based sorting in surveillance practices. This may be
due to the fact that the so-called enforcer-class (police officers, CCTV operators,
bouncers and other surveillance workers) consists mainly of a specific demographic,
but also because of how the monitoring software is designed and which action
possibilities or affordances (Gibson 1977) and responsibilities are inscribed in the
software and hardware that the enforcer-class uses (Timan and Oudshoorn 2012).
The concept of surveillant assemblages (see Section 3.2) could be used to study in
concrete practices to what extent discipline and control are being transferred to
automated, computerised processes and how this changes the normative structure of
surveillance (Andrejevic 2007). Current surveillance practices show that, along with the
rise of a surveillance class, this class serves political goals and powers that go beyond
an objectivation of surveillance through smart and more efficient algorithms. Rather,
against the grain of post-panoptical theories that warn against digital networks and
automated surveillance as the upcoming loci of control, there are still physical and local
surveillance realities that work next to, or in conjunction with, digitised and
computerised networks. These surveillance realities still await proper conceptualisation.
4.3 Participation and Empowerment in Surveillance
Moving away from the often dystopian or at least dark types of surveillance analysis
that are particularly present in post-structuralist and post-Marxist scholars from Deleuze
to Galloway, another branch has emerged in contemporary surveillance studies. Intro-
duced by Haggerty, more neutral and sometimes even empowering accounts are
discerned in systems of watching and being watched. If we accept that we live in a
networked and technology-saturated society, it follows that apparatuses of surveillance,
the methods, tools and technologies already mentioned by Foucault are not solely in the
hands of power-hungry institutions, companies or governments. Even if we follow
Deleuze in reasoning that corporations are now the main surveilling actor, with a surge
for power and control that is enhanced by their opaqueness, still individuals can, at least
to some extent, resist and refuse, mainly by finding alternative ways of using technol-
ogy that is increasingly accessible to him or her. The extent to which this is possible,
however, is subject of current debates surrounding mass surveillance. Instead of being a
place where one looks at many, most social media technologies follow the logic of
many look at many, where visibility is often deliberately chosen. In that vein,
Albrechtslund (2008) in particular diverts from solely negative concepts of surveil-
lance. Rather, he argues that since the emergence of ubiquitous computing, surveillance
as a concept should be re-considered; The entertaining side of surveillance is a
phenomenon worth studying in itself, and we expect that this type of study will
contribute to an understanding of the multi-faceted nature of surveillance
(Albrechtslund and Dubbeld 2005,3).
Albrechtslund looks at how surveillance is often used as a design principle in, for
instance, online games and sports-tracking services. Besides a fun aspect, such games
and services can also inform us about how a (part of) society reflects on notions of
surveillance. Albrechtslund coins the term participatory surveillance;citizens/users
are actively engaged in surveillance themselves as watchers, but they also participate
voluntarily and consciously in the role of watched. Many online environments, espe-
cially social networking sites (boyd and Ellison 2007), serve as interesting places of
Bentham, Deleuze and Beyond: An Overview of Surveillance Theories 29
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study, since many beliefs, ideas and opinions are shared there. Boyd and Ellison (2007)
even state that social networking sites are dominating online activities today and as
such, they constitute new arenas for surveillance. From the perspective of users and
visitors of these online places, the high level of surveillance, in the form of tracking and
being tracked, watching and being watched, or sharing and being shared, is not
necessarily negative:
Characteristic of online social networking is the sharing of activities, preferences,
beliefs, etc. to socialize. I argue that this practice of self-surveillance cannot be
adequately described within the framework of a hierarchical understanding of
surveillance. Rather, online social networking seems to introduce a participatory
approach to surveillance, which can empower and not necessarily violate the
user. (Albrechtslund 2008)
Participating via, for instance, sharing, responding or likingengages users into
these platforms, where the idea of being seen and followedis a precondition rather
than a setback. This is also called self-surveillance, a term that, with recent technolog-
ical trends such as mobile healthcare applications (mHealth) and wearable computing,
resonates more and more. The added value of this concept is that it allows for a user-
centred perspective on surveillance, rather than a top-down or institutional analysis.
Following boyd (2011) and Marwick (2012), this approach enables another type of
analysis of surveillance, where tracing behaviour can reveal usersexperiences of
surveillance and visibility. On the question why visibility is so important to these
users, Koskela (2011) for instance explains that exhibitionism such as shown on social
networking sites or in TV shows can work in an empowering way. By throwing
everything into public arenas, visibility becomes a tool of power that can be used to
rebel against the shame associated with not being private about certain things. Thus,
exhibitionism is liberating, because it represents a refusal to be humble(Koskela
2004). Similarly, in the marketing context, Dholakia and Zwick argue that ultra-
exhibitionism is not a negation of privacy but an attempt to reclaim some control
over the externalisation of information. As such, ultra-exhibitionism is to be understood
as an act of resistance against the surreptitious modes of profiling, categorization and
identity definition that are being performed by others on the consumer whenever he or
she enters the electronic consumptionscape^(Dholakia and Zwick 2001,13).
A counter-argument to the empowering view of (self-)surveillance, however, is that
emerging forms of self-tracking in for example mHealth or other measurement apps in
combination with participation as a design principle could be seen as a facade or
illusion of self-control, where actually users are being tracked and traced in the
background. From a neoliberal point of view, one can also interpret self-tracking and
self-surveillance apps as the ultimate model of nudging(Sunstein and Thaler 2009),
in which governments, institutions and companies are pushing back responsibilities (for
health, for instance) onto individuals (Cohen 2016). In a way, this view re-introduces
the Panopticon as a fitting metaphorwe are not only internalising doing good via
external influences of (partly digitised) institutions in surveillant assemblages, but we
are also, through self-monitoring apps and other forms of participatory surveillance,
internalising these rational models and methods in a self-induced process of self-
30 M. Galičet al.
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4.4 Sousveillance and Other Forms of Resistance
Another conceptual axis along which surveillance in phase 3 is analysed, concerns the
level and type of resistance that is possible and present in certain contexts. One concept
that emerged in the early 2000s is Steve Mannssousveillance(Mann 2004), a mode
of monitoring in which citizens watch governing bodies from below, as an opposing
concept to surveillancewatching over or from above. Due to an increased availability
of camera equipment and other recording devices, Mann argues one form of resistance
is (and should be) to watch backat those who watch us. Where Mann uses the
example of wearable cameras to watch back at CCTV cameras, the idea of
sousveillance could also be transposed to the digital or the virtual context, where
citizen journalism and publishing (leaked) information about surveillance actors can
be seen as forms of watching back. Also, in analysing processes of social sorting and
exclusion, it can prove insightful to look into forms of resistance and sousveillance to
investigate whether and how individuals and groups resist current forms of surveil-
lance, dataveillance and surveillance capitalism. As end-users of social media, as
feeders of big dataor as implicated actors(Clarke and Montini 1993) of CCTV or
WiFi tracking, people still have some room for negotiation and resistancefor anti-
programs(Latour 1999) in use. Examples are citizens who choose to avoid CCTV
cameras in cities (Brands and Schwanen 2014), wear anti-drone hoodies,
instal free
software (like Detekt)
that detects spyware on your computer or feed faulty data into
Although surveillance studies sometimes offers such practical cases and techniques
to dodge surveillance (for example Roessler 2002), conceptualisations of resistance or
pushing backare as yet quite scarce. This might be connected to two asymmetry
problems: first, an asymmetry of power, since we rarely get to choose whether or how
we are monitored, what happens to information about us and what happens to us
because of this information; and second, an asymmetry of knowledge, since we are
often not (fully) aware of the monitoring and how it works at all (Brunton and
Nissenbaum 2013). These two asymmetries can reinforce our lack of resistance, since
how can we resist something that we do not understand, know about and often simply
can hardly influence?
A notable exception is the concept of obfuscation, made particularly prominent by
Brunton and Nissenbaum (2013,2015). They provide tools and a rationale for evasion,
noncompliance, refusal and even sabotage, particularly aimed at average users who are
not not in a position to opt outor exert control over their data, but also offering
insights to software developers (to keep their user data safe) and policy makers (to
gather data without misusing it). They invoke the notion of informational self-defence
in order to define obfuscation, which they see as a method of informational resistance,
disobedience, protest or covert sabotage to compensate for the absence of other
protection mechanisms and which aids the weak against the strong (Brunton and
Nissenbaum 2013). Obfuscation in its broadest form thus offers a strategy for miti-
gating the impact of the cycle of monitoring, aggregation, analysis and profiling,
See (accessed 04 April 2016), for instance.
See (accessed 04 April 2016).
See (accessed 04 April 2016), for instance.
Bentham, Deleuze and Beyond: An Overview of Surveillance Theories 31
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adding noise to an existing collection of data in order to make the collection more
ambiguous, confusing, harder to use and, therefore, less valuable(Brunton and
Nissenbaum 2013, 169). They offer wide-ranging examples, from quote stuffingin
high frequency trading to the swapping of supermarket loyalty cards. Many obfuscation
tools, such as Tor/and proxy servers, are however still not widely known or deployed
outside the relatively small circles of the privacy-aware and the technologically savvy;
moreover, they come with transaction costs (e.g. Tor can be slow and is blocked by
many large websites, Brunton and Nissenbaum 2013, 168). They also discuss certain
ethical and political scruples (Mercer 2010;Phametal.2010; Brunton and Nissenbaum
2013) to indicate that obfuscation is not a panacea to address the downsides of
surveillance. Nevertheless, Brunton and Nissenbaum see obfuscation as both a personal
and a political tactic and therewith offer a theoretical account of resistance that can
serve as a platform for further studying legitimate and problematic aspects of surveil-
lance and its opposition in an age of ubiquitous data capture.
5 Conclusion
In this paper, we have given an overview of key theoretical frameworks and
conceptualisations in surveillance theory. This mapping of the field may assist surveil-
lance studies as it is increasingly feeding into and fed by a wide range of disciplines,
each of which brings their own perspective, concepts and assumptions to understanding
surveillance. We think it is important that surveillance scholarsnot only those
positioning themselves within surveillance studies but also those contributing to other
disciplineshave a common ground for discussion and further development of the
field. We hope that the overview in this paper can serve as such. It is particularly
relevant for newcomers to the field that there is much more to understanding surveil-
lance than Foucaultspanopticism.
We have structured surveillance theory in three roughly chronological-thematic
phases. The first two attempt to theorise surveillance by offering comprehensive
theoretical frameworks, whilst the third further conceptualises surveillance, without
developing alternative holistic frameworks but rather building on the insights of the
first two.
The first phase, featuring Bentham and Foucault, revolves around the Panopticon
and panopticism. It can be characterised as offering architectural theories of surveil-
lance, where surveillance is largely physical and spatial in character (either in concrete,
closed places such as institutional buildings or more widespread in territorially based
social structures) and largely involves centralised mechanisms of watching over sub-
jects. Panoptic structures are theorised as architectures of power; through panoptic
technologies, surveillance enables power exercise, not only directly but also, and more
importantly, through (self-)disciplining of the watched subjects.
The second phase moves away from panoptic metaphors and shifts the focus from
institutions to networks, from relatively ostensible forms of discipline to relatively
opaque forms of control. This phase can be characterised as offering infrastructural
theories of surveillance, where surveillance is networked in character and relies pri-
marily on digital rather than physical technologies. It involves distributed forms of
watching over people, with increasing distance to the watched and often dealing with
32 M. Galičet al.
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data doubles rather than physical persons. A common element in the different theoret-
ical accounts of Deleuze, Haggerty and Ericson and Zuboff is to critically question not
only the power structures in contemporary network societies and how surveillance
reinforces, or sometimes undermines, these, but also how we can conceptualise this
power play beyond panoptic effects of self-disciplining.
In the third phase, we see surveillance theory building on, and sometimes combining
insights from, both theoretical frameworks of the first two phases, to conceptualise
surveillance through concepts or lenses such as dataveillance, access control, social
sorting, peer-to-peer surveillance and resistance. With the datafication of society,
surveillance combines the monitoring of physical spaces with the monitoring of digital
spaces. In these hybrid surveillance spaces, not only government or corporate surveil-
lance is found, but also self-surveillance and complex forms of watching-and-being-
watched through social media and their paradigm of voluntary data sharing.
The roughly chronological structure should not be interpreted as consecutive stages. Each
phase continues to the present (see Fig. 1). New comprehensive theories may emerge within
the architectural or, more likely given the predominance of digital infrastructures in todays
society, infrastructural strands of surveillance theory. Moreover, the conceptualisations of the
third phase add to and refine the broad theoretical frameworks of the first two phases.
So, where does surveillance theory stand now? In the past two decades, many new
layers have been added to real-space surveillant assemblages, with systems such as
dataveillance supplementing rather than replacing classic systems of surveillance such
as CCTV. In that sense, the Panopticon remains a powerful metaphor. However, the
institutions that Foucault recognised as disciplining forces have altered in shape, place,
visibility and dynamics. In addition, notions of self-surveillance point to new dynamics,
where watching oneself via a mediated, mobile and networked gaze still raises ques-
tions of power, discipline and control, but in potentially new ways that cannot be easily
captured in classic surveillance frameworks. Thus, many contemporary theoretical
approaches to surveillance revolve around de-centralised forms of surveillance, with
many watching many and with various permutations of machines and humans watching
machines and humans. What binds many strands together are core questions of power
and control, of who watches whom in which settings for what reasons; and these
questions are asked in settings of technological infrastructures and tools, where tech-
nology functions as an intermediary of power or control dynamics.
These questions of power and control are approached differently, however. Gary T. Marx
distinguishes three attitudes in surveillance thinking. One view emphasises historical conti-
nuity, arguing that changes in surveillance are a matter of degree; others argue that changes in
surveillance are revolutionary, making surveillance a much more predominant feature of
current society. The latter outlook has two variants: a completely negative view (you never
haditsobad) and a more relativistic view, arguing that whilst the technologies may be
revolutionary, changes in surveillance largely reflect social and cultural changes (Marx 2002).
Related to this are differences in understanding the role that surveillance and
surveillance technologies play in society: some theorists use surveillance as a lens to
observe, understand or criticise certain phenomena or developments, whilst others
approach surveillance as an intrinsic and fundamental feature of society as a whole.
Whilst the former is usually more situated in concrete practices, the latter approach is
more holistic and generic, attempting to explain broad developments in society as being
related to the fundamental affordances of surveillance in structuring social processes.
Bentham, Deleuze and Beyond: An Overview of Surveillance Theories 33
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One pitfall of seeing surveillance as an all-encompassing feature of society, but also
in approaches where surveillance is used as a lens to analyse certain developments, is
that theoretical accounts often talk in abstract entities (institutions,the government,
networks,the market). These entities are described as invisible forces exercising
power over subjects. This perspective often ignores any form of situatedness, context or
the specificities of surveillance technologies and practices. In that respect, the surveillant
assemblage can be seen as the first recognition that surveillance needs to be analysed in
context. It is important to apply insights and methodologies developed by Science and
Technology Studies, including for example Actor-Network Theory, to look beyond
abstract theory and the frame of inevitable power exercise over passive, docile subjects.
Although the technologies used in surveillance have been discussed in earlier surveil-
lance literature, the mediation and remediation (Bolter and Grusin 1996)thatoccurs
between technology and users are still frequently overlooked. Useful exceptions are
scholars such as Dubbeld (2005); Ball and Webster (2003)andTaekke(2011), who
provide useful examples of how Science and Technology Studies and media studies can
help find new directions for thinking about the co-evolution of technologies, practices
and values associated with surveillance in the twenty-first century.
Acknowledgments Researchfor this paper was made possible by a grant fromthe Netherlands Organisation
for Scientific Research (NWO), project number 453-14-004. We thank the anonymous reviewers for their
helpful suggestions.
Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International
License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and repro-
duction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a
link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
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Bentham, Deleuze and Beyond: An Overview of Surveillance Theories 37
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... With the emergence of modern disciplinary institutions (Foucault, 2012) and the rise in the variety of surveillance equipment, there has been an increase in the categories, extent of individuals and locations being subjected to surveillance services (Galič, Timan, & Koops, 2017). In recent decades, as schools have increasingly deployed various surveillance such as radio-frequency identification tags (RFID), X-ray inspection of pupil packs, sniffer dogs, drug testing, closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras, and school officers among others (Taylor, 2013a), teachers (Perry-Hazan & Birnhack, 2019) and students have become the prominent subjects of surveillance culture (Taylor, 2012). ...
... Surveillance is, therefore, intended to situate individuals in a set of related statements aimed at controlling and channeling socially appropriate and acceptable behaviors in schools through self-surveillance (Hope, 2013). The way how surveillance is practised has changed much with the arrival of modern electronic surveillance technologies (Galič et al., 2017). Regarding how school resembles panoptic practices, the possibility of constant surveillance by teachers and school administrators encourages students to police their behaviors to ensure conformity within the school perimeters (Hope, 2013). ...
Concerns for security and academic performance have led to the increasing use of various surveillance technologies in educational institutions. This article reports an examination of the lived experiences and subjective insights of Nepali school administrators, teachers and students into the practice of closed-circuit television (CCTV) surveillance cameras. This highlights the challenges of maintaining a surveillance system to minimize risk factors and to create an educational environment in schools. This article based on a qualitative study utilized semi-structured interviews with administrators, teachers and students at three urban schools to explore their perceived value of CCTV surveillance cameras in schools, and non-participant observation to strengthen the data gathered through interviews. Findings indicate that CCTV surveillance cameras in these schools were predominantly aimed at controlling students' and teachers' non-compliant behaviors to promote academic performance. While the study explored how these schools utilized surveillance technology to their advantages, findings contribute to the practical understandings that the technology is equally subject to misuse and can victimize children, given the lack of legal regulations in place.
... Surveillance theory can be viewed as one that is structured in three generally defined thematic phases (Galič, Timan, & Koops, 2016). The first phase lays the foundation for surveillance theories by looking at Bentham's different panopticons and Foucault's use of Bentham's panopticon prison to demonstrate the manner in which panopticism works as a critical force and power to discipline citizens in the society. ...
... This field is continuously growing and expanding, mainly through the rise of computerized databases, for the purpose of having control, governance, security, profit, and entertainment. It works across the state as well as throughout non-state institutions and does not have to be seen or known (Haggerty & Ericson, 2000;Haggerty, 2006;Galič et al., 2016). Contemporary surveillance has additional characteristics and new purposes of controlling: "deterrence, consumption, entertainment, titillation, health promotion, education, governance, accountability, childrearing, and military conquest" (Haggerty, 2006, p. 28). ...
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The powerful players involved in surveillance are mainly governments and corporations, but the possibility for ordinary citizens to both carry out surveillance on others, as well as to themselves become the objects of observation, has increased greatly. This thesis explores how control over surveillance systems can be allocated to communities; suggests that surveillance technology need not be limited to control, discipline, or profit; and shows how citizens and communities can use surveillance technology in a positive manner for their own needs and benefit. The first phase of the research involved the study of the participation of civilians in surveillance. I mapped different forms of citizen participation in surveillance and discuss the component of participation in several different surveillance situations, paying special attention in each case to how this participation is practiced, supported, managed, or questioned. This mapping led to a field study of the relationship between the authorities and citizens in the case of a mass citywide video surveillance project in Jerusalem. The data collected through field research carried out in public spaces in West Jerusalem reveals mixed reactions and behaviors concerning surveillance, both from the authorities and the residents. These responses range from compliance or even the desire to have the system expanded to uneasiness and distrust towards having citizen-led surveillance activities turn on themselves, their neighbors, park visitors, or park and municipal workers. I particularly studied the use of the social media, smartphones, and other accessible technologies as a tool for community-based surveillance. Through these surveillance practices, I observed actively engaged citizen groups creating a “common space”, as well as commoning practices that accommodate, support, and express the community of which they are members. Based on these findings, a prototype for a citizen-operated surveillance platform named CommunityEyes was designed and developed. With this platform, I researched potential tools and systems for community-based surveillance and sought to explore how “participatory surveillance” can make the public space not only safer and more welcoming but also more open and democratic. The prototype, a web-based application that allows communities to set up participatory video surveillance, connects the power of social media with video surveillance technology, creating a system that allows communities to share in the monitoring of their neighborhood. It enables people to watch, comment, and communicate directly with neighbors, and crowdshare information while fully cognizant of the fact that they are themselves surveilledunder surveillance. Conclusions from the testing of the prototype, performed in the protected environment of an art exhibition, show that CommunityEyes not only has the potential of serving as a participatory community surveillance platform but that it could also serve as a stimulus, and catalyst for public discourse. Such conversations resulted in the development of “surveillance literacy” as a concept and for the need to educate people and communities about surveillance technology and platforms and the benefits and dangers of surveillance practices. While advocating transparency and open smart-city practices, there is simultaneously also the need for promoting closed community platforms that are owned collectively and governed democratically.
... This has paved the way for global corporatists to take over the power of governments in democratic societies by means of constant surveillance and mass control. Capitalism has shifted the balance of power from nation-states towards large corporations, employing the surveillance logic of capitalists [54]. With reference to social media, Fuchs [55] found that the surveillance capitalism fuses with the surveillance state. ...
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The Metaverse, as a gigantic ecosystem application enabled mainly by Artificial Intelligence (AI), the IoT, Big Data, and Extended Reality (XR) technologies, represents an idea of a hypothetical "parallel virtual environment" that incarnates ways of living in virtually inhabitable cities. It is increasingly seen as a transition from smart cities to virtual cities and a new target for city governments to attain “new” goals. However, the Metaverse project was launched amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a crisis purported to be a rare opportunity that should be seized to reset and reimagine the world—though mainly in regard to its digital incarnation, and what this entails in terms of both cementing and normalizing the corporate-led, top-down, technocratic, tech-mediated, algorithmic mode of governance, as well as new forms of controlling ways of living in urban society. The “new normal” has already set the stage for undemocratically resetting and unilaterally reimagining the world, resulting in an abrupt large-scale digital transformation of urban society, a process of digitization and digitalization that is in turn paving the way for a new era of merging virtuality and urbanity. This has raised serious concerns over the risks and impacts of the surveillance technologies that have been rapidly and massively deployed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. These concerns also relate to the global architecture of the computer mediation of the Metaverse upon which the logic of surveillance capitalism depends, and which is constituted by control and commodification mechanisms that seek to monitor, predict, control, and trade the behavior of human users, as well as to exile them from their own. This viewpoint paper explores and questions the Metaverse from the prism of the social and economic logic of surveillance capitalism, focusing on how and why the practices of the post-pandemic governance of urban society are bound to be undemocratic and unethical. The novelty of the viewpoint lies in providing new insights into understanding the dark side of the ostensible fancier successor of the Internet of today, thereby its value and contribution to the ongoing scholarly debates in the field of Science, Technology, and Society (STS). In addition, by shedding light on the emergence of the Metaverse as a computing platform, the viewpoint seeks to help policymakers understand and assess the ramifications of its wide adoption, as well as to help users make informed decisions about its usage in everyday activity—if it actualizes.
... The study of surveillance is essentially an investigation of power dynamics-it asks who the authorities or watchers are, what they expect, and what might happen to one who does not comply with the established norms. The field of surveillance studies takes as its foundation the philosophy of Foucault (1977Foucault ( /1995 who conceptualized surveillance as a technology of power (i.e., state, institutional, social) through which the norms and rules of a culture are internalized by individuals to discipline behavior (see also, Behrent, 2013;Galič et al., 2017;Manokha, 2018). Since the rise of digital and social media technologies, surveillance has been discussed more broadly in terms of an assemblage of systems (e.g., government, corporate, social) that are loosely connected and able to collect and share data in ways unknown to individuals (Haggerty & Ericson, 2000;Marwick, 2012). ...
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The purpose of this qualitative descriptive study was to explore how academics in the United States described their social media self-presentations (SMSPs) in the context of imagined surveillance. Moral Reasoning Theory drove two RQs: (1) How do academics describe construction of SMSPs in the context of imagined surveillance? (2) How do academics describe the influence of imagined surveillance on their personal SMSPs? 106 academics from across the U.S. were recruited by convenience sampling from two scholarly associations. Data were collected from closed-/open-ended questionnaires (n=102) and semi-structured interviews (n=20). Data analysis applied a six-phased Reflexive Thematic Analysis procedure of inductive coding to generate five themes and 14 subthemes. Academics described SMSP construction as negotiating (1) promises and perils of in/visibility, including (a) unspoken rules, (b) overlapping identities, (c) social support, and (d) personal opinion-sharing, which was profoundly shaped by (2) the rise of cancel culture, or an (a) enforced ideology, (b) activist subgroup, and (c) pressure to signal support. Imagined surveillance influenced SMSPs toward (3) protection over participation by (a) withdrawal from social media, viewing (b) tenure as insufficient, and (c) safe social media strategies; (4) trepidation while teaching due to (a) classroom recording prompted (b) strategic instruction; and (5) resistance and rebellion to (a) push back on cancel culture with a (b) duty to speak out. This study advanced understanding of social media surveillance as a normalizing force on speech and behavior. Findings may be applied to policy and practice regarding social media use in education and other professional settings.
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Students and teachers find themselves increasingly surrounded by Big Data and AI technologies that facilitate the learning process and the organisation of school life. Accordingly, vast amounts of data are being collected on the working of the entire school community. This trend-referred to as the 'datafication' of education-was pushed immensely during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, already before the necessity to quickly find digital solutions for remote teaching and learning, many scholars were concerned about the privacy and autonomy of the 'datafied' student and the corresponding larger effects on public education and democracy as such. In this chapter, we approach the datafication of school education through the lens of data protection and autonomy. We point to the inadequacies in the European data protection framework, which is considered as the state of the art by many. In search of other capable legal concepts, we explore the German 'right to informational self-determination', which introduces the distinct argument that restricting data flows is a necessity for the free personal development of the individual-a notion relevant for the tumbling, ever evolving minds of children and teenagers. We find that the fuzzy realities of school life demand a nuanced governance approach that balances individual control and privacy protection with the interests, needs and visions of the school community.
The well‐known metaphor of ‘panopticon’, derived from Bentham's project and popularized by Foucault, has long informed scholarly conversations in management and organization studies (MOS). Herein, we question the power of this emblematic metaphor. Through an in‐depth literature review specifying its form, principle and goal, coupled to an investigation of Bentham's original writings, we identify two readings of the panopticon. First, we disentangle the uses of this concept in MOS literature and highlight a rather uniform and negative interpretation of the panopticon as a mechanism of social control and surveillance (first reading). Beyond this dominant interpretation, we contend that the panopticon is a richer concept than MOS literature acknowledges. Going back to Bentham's initial project, entailing not only one but plural types of panopticons, we propose a more comprehensive conceptualization of the panopticon (second reading) as: (1) a rewarding functional dispositive based on freedom and autonomy (form); (2) relying on information sharing, transparency and visibility (principle); and (3) striving for harmony and efficiency as ultimate ends (goal). In doing so, we generate a new way of seeing the panopticon in MOS research. We also reveal an inherent tension between both readings, interpreted as dystopia and utopia, and show that their combination allows grasping the ambivalence of panopticism in practice in ways that can inform further research on liberal management. As a practice of freedom, panopticism in practice might indeed turn into an instrument furthering control. To conclude, we highlight some analytical paths to help MOS scholars disentangle such ambivalence.
Regardless of where plastic pollution originates, the management interventions made at the local level are crucial to the global success of reducing plastic pollution. Reduced plastic consumption and pollution have been observed in communities with plastic taxes and educational programs. However, there is currently a lack of a quantitative framework that connects local actions to measurable reductions of plastic loads in the nearby coastal environment. Here, we explore whether changes in municipal waste management efforts corresponded to decreases in coastal plastic pollution across the continent of Australia. Our research shows that local strategies can result in large-scale benefits. We observed an average reduction in coastal litter of 29% over 6 years at the continental scale. Strategies that encouraged stewardship of coastal areas and economically motivated appropriate waste disposal were correlated with reductions in plastic pollution. This work can guide the efforts of policymakers and citizens alike to reduce plastic pollution at local, national, and global scales.
The era of 'surveillance capitalism' as a new logic of accumulation that claims human experience as free raw material necessitates an understanding of how corporate-controlled digital communication technologies govern and structure how we come to know the world. This article investigates surveillance capitalist operations and argues that it enables (l) algorithmic colonisation, (2) oppressive digital practices that reify bias along racial lines, and (3) the turning of bodies into objects in the creation and maintenance of whiteness. Through presenting these different arguments, a larger point emerges, namely, that surveillance capitalist operations must be understood as intimately tied to the project of white world-making.
This paper puzzles through the doubled impasses of our affective inquiry into learning communities in a college setting. In so doing, we take on the incommensurabilities of our field site and post qualitative inquiry, providing an example of critical qualitative inquiry where theory and practice are made to work together at their limits, both compromising with each other, neither subordinated to the other. Affective inquiry, an instantiation of concept as method inquiry, itself was a search for the impasses of learning community life. When our observations were moved to Zoom as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we were faced with another impasse: how to attune to affect in this new and thoroughly datafied space? We open by theorizing affective inquiry and our doubled impasse, and we then explore three locations of these impasses in our fieldwork. We close with a reaffirmation of relentless experimentation.
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This paper considers the nature of social surveillance through the physical activity tracking app MapMyRun and examines how this was experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic during the UK and USA summer 2020 lockdowns. In contributing to debates in digital geographies around the entanglements of the fleshy and digital body, the paper responds to calls for research to recognise the increasing sociality of self-tracking (Coutre, 2021), specifically considering how, during the COVID-19 pandemic, these apps offered a form of connection during a time of isolation. Using data from email and video interviews, I argue that whilst a Foucauldian account of surveillance can be used as a point of departure, it is limited in accounting for the social aspects of self-tracking. I therefore propose that applying Robinson’s (2000) concept of ‘noisy surveillance’ to self-tracking is useful for understanding the messiness of surveillance in terms of the complications and noisiness involved in interactions in digital spaces, as well as the opportunities for performance management online particularly during lockdown.
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A Response to Colin Bennett's 'In Defence of Privacy'
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With the focus on organizations, this article describes power in relation to mediated surveillance using Luhmann’s systems theory, poststructuralist theory and theory of media sociography. It aims to sketch out the main issues in contemporary surveillance discourse and illustrate the current situation, as well as discuss surveillance from the perspective of poststructuralist theory in relation to Luhmann’s concepts of trust, risk and especially power. The underlying media sociographical question is which storing-, retrieving-, localisation- and temporal possibilities for communication and surveillance do digital media provide and how the realization of this potential feeds back into organizations’ power structures.
Recently, with the advent of technoscience, and especially the convergence of nanotechnology, biotechnology, information and communication technology and the cognitive sciences (NBIC), has come the prospect of human enhancement. Even though the latter – the technological enhancement of human beings which has coalesced in the figure of the posthuman – has been the object of a heated, polarised, and ultimately deadlocked debate between bioconservatives and transhumanists, crucial dimensions that are needed to understand what is at stake with human enhancement have been omitted. While putative enhancement technologies are assumed to be dramatically challenging, revolutionising even, for human beings, the very relations between humans and technologies and the emergence of new configurations are ignored. Rather, a generic yet highly normative and exclusive conception of the human informs the bioconservative and transhumanist understandings of human enhancement. In this context, how to apprehend and conceptualise the relations between humans and enhancement technologies so as to improve the current discussion on enhancement? This is the question that guides this thesis; and as argued in the latter, it is by addressing – and attempting to answer – this interrogation both conceptually and empirically that it becomes possible to account for what it means to be human within enhancement technologies, that is, within technologies that are increasingly getting closer to the (human) bodies they offer to modify.
This paper presents reflections on the conference “Critique, Democracy and Philosophy in 21st Century Information Society. Towards Critical Theories of the Information Society” that took place at Uppsala University from May 2nd-4th, 2012. About 160 participants attended the conference. It featured 15 plenary talks in seven sessions, 15 paper presentation sessions organised in 5 slots that each had 3 parallel sessions. The conference was financially supported by the Swedish Research Council and organised by Uppsala University’s Department of Informatics and Media, the ICTs and Society Network (, the European Sociological Association’s Research Network 18: Sociology of Communications and Media Research (, tripleC – Open Access Journal for a Global Sustainable Information Society (, the Unified Theory of Information Research Group (UTI), Aarhus University’s Department of Information and Media Studies, the Vienna University of Technology’s Institute for Design & Assessment of Technology, and Jönköping University’s School of Education and Communication.
This paper introduces the overall framework for tripleC’s special issue “Marx is Back. The Importance of Marxist Theory and Research for Critical Communication Studies Today”. We point out why there is a return of the interest in Marx (“Marx is back”) and why Marxian analysis is important for Critical Communication Studies today. We also provide a classification of Marxian dimensions of the critical analysis of media and communication and discuss why commonly held prejudices against what Marx said about society, media, and communication are wrong. The special issue shows the importance of Marxist theory and research for Critical Communication Studies today.