• Towards a Surveillant Society by Thomas Mathiesen - book cover

Towards a Surveillant Society

The Rise of Surveillance Systems in Europe

by Thomas Mathiesen


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A most timely publication in view of current concerns about snooping. Thomas Mathiesen describes how the major databases of Europe have become interlinked and accessible to diverse organizations and third States; meaning that, largely unchallenged, a ‘Surveillance Monster’ now threatens rights, freedoms, democracy and the Rule of Law. As information is logged on citizens’ every move, data flows across borders via systems soon to be under central, global or even non-State control. Secret plans happen behind closed doors and ‘systems func­tionaries’ become defensive of their own role. Goals expand and entire processes are shrouded in mystery. Alongside the integration of automated systems sits a weakening of State ties as the Prüm Treaty and Schengen Convention lead to systems lacking transparency, restraint or Parliamentary scrutiny. As Mathiesen explains, the intention may have been fighting terrorism or organized crime, but the means have become disproportionate, unaccountable, over-expensive and lacking in results which ordinary vigilance and sound intelligence in communities should provide.


‘I strongly recommend this book to anyone worried about the possible threats to democracy, law and scientific knowledge posed by the growth, uses and abuses of information technology. And I recommend it even more strongly to anyone who has yet to be convinced there is cause for concern’: Pat Carlen, University of Leicester, British Journal of Criminology.

‘Brings into the light the hidden effects of [surveillance and warns] of the need for vigilance’: Tony Bunyan, Director, Statewatch.

‘A timely and highly troubling analysis [ which] reinforces alarm regarding a panoptical globe’: Andrew Rutherford.

‘As with all of Thomas Mathiesen’s writing, this is an excellent and original text that is grounded in rich empirical data and develops a complex theoretical framework that is both informative and accessible to both undergraduate students and the most experienced of researchers’: Dr Sacha Darke, University of Westminster.


Thomas Mathiesen is Professor of Sociology of Law at the University of Oslo. One of the leading international commentators on surveillance issues, he has long been associated with penetrating analysis of challenges to democracy and the abuse of power, including in Prison on Trial; Across the Boundaries of Organizations; The Politics of Abolition and Silently Silenced: Essays on the Creation of Acquiescence in Modern Society.

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Weight412 g
Dimensions234 × 156 × 16 mm


Waterside Press




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United Kingdom

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