I’m pleased to announce the publication of SuperVision: An Introduction to the Surveillance Society and am delighted to be able to share a sample chapter with the Culture Digitally community. While there are lots of good research monographs on surveillance studies, our objective was to write a fun introductory book with lots of examples and teasers to encourage undergrad students and non-academics to critically engage with the broad range of surveillance technologies and practices in everyday life. Here’s a description from the publisher (University of Chicago Press):
“We live in a surveillance society. Anyone who uses a credit card, cell phone, or even search engines to navigate the Web is being monitored and assessed—and often in ways that are imperceptible to us. SuperVision is the first general introduction to the growing field of surveillance studies. It uses examples drawn from everyday technologies to show how surveillance is used, who is using it, and how it affects our world.
Beginning with a look at the activities and technologies that connect most people to the surveillance matrix, from identification cards to GPS devices in our cars to Facebook, John Gilliom and Torin Monahan invite readers to critically explore surveillance as it relates to issues of law, power, freedom, and inequality. Even if you avoid using credit cards and stay off Facebook, they show, going to work or school inevitably embeds you in surveillance relationships. Finally, they discuss the more visible forms of surveillance, including the security systems used at airports and on city streets, which both epitomize contemporary surveillance and make impossibly grand promises of safety and security.
SuperVision offers an immensely accessible and engaging guide, giving readers the tools to understand and to question how deeply surveillance has been woven into the fabric of our everyday lives.”
I’ve selected Chapter 5, “Watching You Work,” as the sample chapter. Download it here: Gilliom and Monahan Chapter 5. It sketches some of the many ways that information systems augment a long history of workplace surveillance, illustrating some of the control dimensions of new (and old) technologies. We’d welcome your comments.