Why is modern society associated with the growth of State surveillance?
Even though the existence of surveillance commences from the ancient times when its use was to keep records of populations for purposes such as taxation and military service (Lyon, 1994:22), the growth of military organisation, industrial cities, government administration, and the capitalistic business enterprise of the State facilitated on its expansion (Lyon, 1994:24). Surveillance nowadays is considered to be an important form of social control and it is the Government’s central approach in the prevention and reduction of crime (Fenwick, 2007). According to the Home’s Office official website ‘the purpose of surveillance is to monitor people and their actions in order to ensure community safety and to gather intelligence on criminal activity and threats to the public’ (accessed on 14/02/2008).
Surveillance is a constant gaze over people’s actions and as Lyon (1994) well puts ‘everything from the humble closed circuit television cameras (CCTV) which are recording people and their actions, to the way in which we handle our daily transactions using plastic cards instead of money has been miniaturised, advanced, and easy to track at any time and from anywhere in the world’ (Lyon, 1994:3-4). Therefore it can be argued that we live in a surveillance society (Surveillance Study Network, 2006) where Foucault’s (1991) Panopticon is functioning. The question raised at this point is whether Foucault’s paradigm of the Panopticon in the modern society is seen to signify an immanent vision of how specific authorities would like if possible, to do surveillance (Webster 1995: 70, cited in Green, 1999) and whether the growth of surveillance has positive effects upon the modern society.
The expansion of surveillance as Weber believed (cited in Giddens, 2001:348) carries inevitably the expansion of bureaucracy in modern societies as a means of managing with the organizational needs...