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Welfare Governance in the Surveillance Society: A positive-realistic cybercriticalist view

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Publication details

JournalSocial Policy and Administration
DatePublished - 4 Sep 2003
Issue number5
Number of pages14
Pages (from-to)468-482
Original languageEnglish


In exploring the implications of information and communication technologies (ICTs), Fitzpatrick has suggested the need for a new category of rights—virtual rights. To explore this claim, we consider how developments in information management and processing differentially impact on citizens. Using examples from the public and private sectors we explore the dangers posed by the emergent surveillance society and agree these may require new rights. But we suggest that the state has by no means been an exemplar and, moreover, that many of the "surveilling" practices employed by commercial organizations might be used by the state to pursue socially just ends. We argue against a criticalist perspective that narrowly focuses on the dangers posed by new ICTs. Indeed, from a realist perspective we argue that a positive cybercriticalism that seeks to tackle exclusion by harnessing and constraining the surveillance qualities of ICTs is a pressing policy priority.

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