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Surveillance Societies

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Surveillance Societies


Nowadays, the society is surveillance so it is inadequate converse about surveillance in the future tense. Mostly in all developed countries, daily life of people is closely watched with surveillance encounters almost 24/7. Some encounters are stick out so much that people did not feel that they are under observation. For instance, CCTV (Closed Circuit Television) cameras are continuously watching us such as getting ticket information that becomes part of life. People is watched and observed in public such as governmental, immigration and customs; and private such as frequent flyer clubs and shopping malls (Norris, pp.1999, 22-250).

The literal meaning of surveillance is to "watch over" that is very common in today's life. Surveillance depends on the information and communication technologies (ICTs). The societies of Surveillance are very persistent in organizational watching of many kinds. It is difficult to keep surveillance alone, thus fast moving technologies with government and industrialist mutually identified new modes of surveillance. Information and communication technologies (ICTs) increased the control, reach and power of the surveillance systems.

Social scientist identifies the emerging trend of recent change, and that is surveillance society. It was argued that one component of information societies is surveillance that Western countries are becoming (Flaherty, 1989, pp. 1-10). In 2004, Richard Thomas, the British Information Commissioner, notified the initiative of introducing a national identity card as the step towards surveillance society. The people are making credit reporting as people make payments with credit card, and their transactions are monitored. Other ways of surveillance are GPS (Global Positioning Satellites), mobile tracking devices.


The idea of surveillance comes from the first wave of organizations transformation towards computerization, in the 1970s. In 1984, from the novel of George Orwell the figure of speech was "Big Brother". Afterwards, many studies used the term of "Big Brother" in the context of surveillance society. Marx (1985, pp. 21-26) referred the term of Big Brother to computerized surveillance society; later on, Gandy (1989, p. 3) invoked this term for bureaucratic social control. By saying that he meant to surveillance societies people do not posses any privacy as well as control over their lives, and people's lives will be controlled by Big Brothers.

The drastic changes like computerization, globalization, networking, and relationship management has taken place are because of technology, so going back to social science is beneficial because the fundamental principles still stand. The surveillance societies are so effective. The ways of keeping records, gather information, limited right of access to certain persons, in the process of surveillance is questionable. Surveillance societies represent the world of bureaucratic organization that is effective but soulless, as well as like iron cage. As a result, ordinary people would think that they are fence in an unfriendly and inhuman system. Surveillance societies also lead the system to cruel autocrat like Big Brother (Parker, 2001, pp. 12-310).

Foucault (1979, pp. 201-202) criticize the surveillance societies by arguing that it results in bad psychological and mental affect on people. Surveillance prominent ...
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