Critical Surveillance Studies in the Information Society

Thomas Allmer


The overall aim of this paper is to clarify how we can theorize and systemize economic surveillance. Surveillance studies scholars like David Lyon stress that economic surveillance such as monitoring consumers or the workplace are central aspects of surveillance societies. The approach that is advanced in this work recognizes the importance of the role of the economy in contemporary surveillance societies. The paper at hand constructs theoretically founded typologies in order to systemize the existing literature of surveillance studies and to analyze examples of surveillance. Therefore, it mainly is a theoretical approach combined with illustrative examples. This contribution contains a systematic discussion of the state of the art of surveillance and clarifies how different notions treat economic aspects of surveillance. In this work it is argued that the existing literature is insufficient for studying economic surveillance. In contrast, a typology of surveillance in the modern economy, which is based on foundations of a political economy approach, allows providing a systematic analysis of economic surveillance on the basis of current developments on the Internet. Finally, some political recommendations are drawn in order to overcome economic surveillance. This contribution can be fruitful for scholars who want to undertake a systematic analysis of surveillance in the modern economy and who want to study the field of surveillance critically.


Surveillance Studies, Critical Political Economy, Economic Surveillance, Workplace Surveillance, Pre-Employment Screening, Consumer Surveillance

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