Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

Databases and surveillance: are we all Big Brother now?

This event has now finished. Please see our events website for details of upcoming events at Brookes.

Who this event is for

  • Everyone


522, Gibbs, Headington Campus, Gipsy Lane site


Theme of the seminar

Concepts like cloud computing, ‘big science’, and data-rich medicine all pay tribute to the idea that professional practice in science and beyond increasingly entails the management of large-scale datasets and the routine interchange of data. Also, processes of knowledge production are much more collaborative than in the past: online tools open up participation in knowledge production processes to anyone with Internet access, either on a computer or a smartphone; while public authorities, state agencies and commercial organizations all employ increasingly sophisticated and bespoke means of data gathering, collation, storage and exchange. At one remove these developments can be treated as a progressive shift in knowledge production processes, opening up new worlds of connectivity, access to knowledge communities and areas of expertise previously denied. At another they challenge the very idea and location of society and social intercourse through technologies that carry the promise of citizen and consumer competence, liberation and security; but also the threat derived from always being connected and routinely visible. The latter because in the realm of non-human actors, interlinked datasets seen as data ‘networks’ are minable, governable, and capable of being abused by a variety of actors. Drawing on expertise from the public and private domains as well as the third sector this workshop will address these questions, by exploring cases in the elemental tension of security and surveillance as these are being played out in military, police, governmental and commercial spheres, both nationally and globally.

Oxford Brookes University Centre for Global Politics, Economy and Society and Brunel University Seminar Series on Networks and Society: Seminar 3