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Information Asymmetry and Power in a Surveillance Society

Lightfoot, Geoffrey and Wisniewski, Tomasz (2014): Information Asymmetry and Power in a Surveillance Society.

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Abstract

This paper fuses Lukes’ (1974) three-dimensional view of power with the economic concept of informational asymmetry to explicate how access to information is organized and how power relationships arise from this organization. We argue that many observed asymmetries are deliberate and, drawing from the economics and finance literature, we posit that their outcomes are inevitably detrimental. The paper examines the techniques that foster information imbalances, such as media and propaganda, knowledge production, educational systems, legal and organizational structures, exclusive information networks, and surveillance. We conclude that in the absence of greater transparency, the deleterious effects of unequal access to information will continue and deepen. We further suggest that the analysis of the complexities of the issues warrants a broad, multidisciplinary approach and we suggest what this might include.

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