I spy with my little eye. Surveillance, transparency and the power of information

Marble students 2015

Research output: Book/ReportReportAcademic


"Scientia potentia est" – knowledge is power. Many people seem to read this phrase, attributed to Francis Bacon, as a mission statement. If knowledge is power, then it is easy to understand why people demand more transparency and why at the same time surveillance increases. Transparency and surveillance are means to acquire knowledge and information. For centuries, governments have been surveilling their people to ensure that they behave according to their wishes. Similarly, the people are demanding more transparency with regard to the activities of their governments in order to hold their governments accountable for their actions.
However, it needs to be understood that the argument that transparency only empowers people and automatically leads to societal betterment is amounting to mere oversimplification. Potential shifts in power relations depend on the sort of power, as well as on its direction and magnitude. Therefore, power in this joint volume needs to be understood as a very flexible term with many contingent forms. Each form of power and of power relations needs to be seen in the individual and divergent context of each contribution.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationMaastricht
PublisherMaastricht University
Number of pages283
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Publication series

SeriesMaRBLe Research Papers

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