Social control and surveillance in the society of consumers

Massimo RagneddaSocial control and surveillance in the society of consumers, International Journal of Sociology and Anthropology Vol. 3(6), pp.180–188, June 2011, ISSN 2006-988x ©2011 Academic Journals .

Abstract:  The new Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) introduced a highly automated and much cheaper systematic observation of personal data. ICTs advance the intensification and the extension of surveillance, such that an expanding quantity of data can now be collected, tabulated and cross-referenced more rapidly and more accurately than old paper files. This process contributes to the building a “new electronic cage” constraining the individual, on the basis of his e-profile and data-matching. Especially two agents of surveillance are interested in collecting and using such data: government authorities and private corporations. Massive stores of personal data held on ordinary people are now vital to both public services and private business purposes. The new electronic cage is more all-encompassing and complete, being able to produce a complete profile of citizens and consumers in real time. Both public and private information agencies rely on one another for creating and modelling the profiles of good citizens/consumers who, by definition, are well integrated into social life, exhibiting predictable behaviour that conforms to the general needs of contemporary consumer/ oriented social relations. The underlying assumption under girding the public/private exchange of personal data, the idea is that a good consumer is also a good citizen, and vice versa.

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