Growing Gazes: Omniscient, Metaphorical and Reflexive Eyes

Invited Speaker

Title: Growing Gazes : Omniscient, Metaphorical and Reflexive Eyes

Professor David Lyon, Professor of Sociology & Professor of Law, Director of Surveillance Studies Centre, Queens University, Canada


Watching  others  is  an  inescapably  cultural  practice  and  beliefs  about  who  may  watch  whom  or  why watching is  worthwhile have been part of that practice throughout history. The following three key types of gaze  have  a  strong relationship with modern surveillance  and each raises ethical and political issues. The omniscient eye started with a secular Enlightenment parody of divine omniscience that privileged the eye,  seen  from  the  Panopticon  to  Total  Information  Awareness. This  gaze  produces  anxiety  because surveillance  ambiguities  are  ironed out in  the relentless  rationality  of the  eye of control. Technical pan-­perception has no place for care, although care  is  evident in much surveillance. The  metaphorical eye  or “seeing with data” exists in modern bureaucracy, through the information state to contemporary database surveillance. This  may  be  considered  in terms  of  disembodied  information on  the  individual  level and biopower in relation to populations. Today, biopower is basic to the  allocation of access to opportunities and rewards. It is surveillance as social sorting. With the  reflexive  eye, the object is also subject, actively participating in surveillance processes. Surveillance  is  seen as  an element in constitution of everyday life; equally,  the  subject produces  surveillance. Social media  are  implicated  but the  reflexive  eye  is not new; previous top-­‐down depictions of surveillance have failed properly to acknowledge the two-­‐way gaze.


David  Lyon  is  Director,  Surveillance  Studies  Centre,  Queen’s  Research  Chair  in  Surveillance  Studies, Professor of Sociology and Professor of Law at Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario. From 2008-­‐2010 he held a Killam Research Fellowship from the Canada Council.  In 2007 he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Sociological Association, Communication and Information Technology Section and in 2008 was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. He has authored or edited 26 books and published many articles. The books have been translated into 16 languages and articles more.

The  most  recent  sole-­‐authored  books  are  Identifying  Citizens:  ID  Cards  as  Surveillance  (2009)  and Surveillance Studies: An Overview (2007) and the  newest co-­‐edited collections  are Eyes  Everywhere: The Global Growth  of Camera  Surveillance  (2012)  and  the  Handbook  of Surveillance  Studies  (2012).  Liquid Surveillance:  Zygmunt  Bauman  and  David  Lyon  in  Conversation  will  appear  in  2012.  The  Culture  of Surveillance  should  be  published  in  2013.    He  is  on  the  international editorial boards  of a  number  of journals, co-­‐editor of Surveillance and Society and associate editor of The Information Society. He has held visiting  positions  at  universities  in Australia,  England,  France,  India,  Japan,  Mexico,  New  Zealand  and