Theological Perspectives on a Surveillance Society : Watching and Being Watched book cover
1st Edition

Theological Perspectives on a Surveillance Society
Watching and Being Watched

ISBN 9780754667971
Published April 28, 2011 by Routledge
206 Pages

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Book Description

This book looks at contemporary surveillance practices and ideologies from a Christian theological perspective. Surveillance studies is an emerging, inter-disciplinary field that brings together scholars from sociology, criminology, political studies, computing and information studies, cultural studies and other disciplines. Although surveillance has been a feature of all societies since humans first co-operated to watch over one another whilst hunting and gathering it is the convergence of information technologies within both commerce and the state that has ushered in a 'surveillance society'. There has been little, if any, theological consideration of this important dimension of social organisation; this book fills the gap and offers a contribution to surveillance studies from a theological perspective, broadening the horizon against which surveillance might be interpreted and evaluated. This book is also an exercise in consciousness-raising with respect to the Christian community in order that they may critically engage with a surveillance society by drawing on biblical and theological resources. Being the first major theological treatment in the field it sets the agenda for more detailed considerations.

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction; The 13th chime; Taking care; Careful technology; An unsafe peace; 'Unto Whom no privé thing is hid'; 'As if'; References; Index.

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Lecturer in Practical Theology at the University of St Andrews, UK since 2005. He has also taught at the University of Aberdeen, the Open University (as an associate lecturer on their first fully-online technology course), and developed and managed theological programmes at the former Scottish Churches Open College in Edinburgh between 2000 and 2003.


'This unique theology of surveillance provides an unusual but highly relevant approach to our everyday visibility under video cameras, at borders, on the internet - wherever our personal data are captured for processing. The critical ethics of care developed here speaks to an urgent need for serious rethinking about how to respond to and confront today's multi-facted surveillance.' David Lyon,The Queen's University, Canada 'Anyone interested in the theological questions raised by surveillance societies needs to engage with this book, especially its criticisms of privacy-responses, the relation of risk to surveillance, and its invitation to a more engagement-driven response to the problematics of the surveillance society from largely reactive and self-protective churches. ... this is a thorough treatment of a question of great social import which deserves a wide readership.' Themelios 'This engaging book includes rich veins of Christological theology and biblical exegesis. Together, these inform the critique of existing surveillance discourses, and provide the resources for a valuable alternative approach.' Church Times '[Stoddart's] book provides a fitting theological horizon for what he perceives to be tendencies prevalent in surveillance cultures.' Religious Studies Review 'Theological Perspectives on a Surveillance Society is a rich, detailed and thoughtful addition to the rapidly expanding literature about surveillance.' Studies in Christian Ethics ’...Stoddart’s pioneering work sets a course which we can only hope that he, and others, will pursue.’ Modern Believing