B.Sc. (Soc. Sci.), Ph.D. (Bradford)
Professor, Queen's Research Chair in Surveillance Studies
Office: Mac-Corry D526
Phone: (613) 533-6000 ext. 74489
*On sabbatical January 1, 2012 - June 30, 2012
David Lyon's research, writing, and teaching interests revolve around major social transformations in the modern world. Questions of the information society, globalization, secularization, surveillance, and postmodernity all feature prominently in his work.
Surveillance Studies has been Lyon’s major research area for the past 20 years. He brings a sociological perspective to bear on the issues raised by personal data processing in a database-dependent world. His surveillance interests include border and airport controls, social media, organizational routines, video camera surveillance and, especially, citizen registration and identification systems. His concerns include, prominently, the social sorting capacities of contemporary surveillance, along with an exploration of their ethics and politics.
While he is best known for his work in Surveillance Studies, David Lyon’s research and writing span several other areas as well. Starting in Historical Sociology in the 1970s, his early work was on secularization processes – and the critique of some key theories -- in the modern world. Today, he tries to keep abreast of debates over the "post-secular" with an emphasis on the work of Charles Taylor. Following this, his main research directions explore other forms of social transformation that are both characteristic and constitutive of modernity.
From the mid-1980s, Lyon's broad concerns prompted a critical examination of the much-hyped ‘microelectronics revolution’ that gave way to the so-called ‘information society.’ In the 1990s, Lyon focused his analyses on the social origins, incidence and consequences of processing personal data, arguing that surveillance has become a major dimension of modernity in its own right. This aspect of his research has expanded considerably, especially since 9/11, and involves extensive collaboration with colleagues and students. Surveillance is a globalized phenomenon, and Lyon's work focuses increasingly on the global south.
As Director of the Surveillance Studies Centre, Lyon works with a multidisciplinary and international team on several related initiatives from primary research to theoretical development as well as associated media, policy and advocacy activities.
From 2008-2010 David Lyon was a Canada Council Killam Research Fellow, investigating the current rise of national ID card systems in a cross-national comparative perspective. The work complements some of his other studies of surveillance and contributes to both empirical and theoretical understanding of contemporary smart, biometrics-based ID systems.
Lyon is North American editor of Surveillance & Society and on the international editorial boards of seven other journals. His books have been translated into thirteen languages: Chinese, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Romanian, Spanish, Swedish and Turkish.
In 2008 Lyon was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. In 2005 Lyon was awarded a Queen’s Research Chair and in 2007 received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Sociological Association Communication and Information Technology Section.
Identifying Citizens: ID Cards as Surveillance (Polity 2009)
Playing the Identity Card: Surveillance, Security and Identification in Global Perspective,
(co-edited with Colin Bennett, Routledge 2008)
Surveillance Studies: An Overview, (Polity 2007)
Theorizing Surveillance: The Panopticon and Beyond, (editor; Willan 2006)
Surveillance after September 11, (Polity 2003)
Surveillance as Social Sorting: Privacy, Risk and Digital Discrimination, (Routledge 2003)
Surveillance Society: Monitoring Everyday Life, (Open University Press, 2001)
Computers, Surveillance and Privacy, (co-edited with Elia Zureik; Minnesota 1996)
The Electronic Eye: The Rise of Surveillance Society, (Polity 1994)
Postmodernity, (Open University Press 1994; second edition, revised, 1999)
The Information Society: Issues and Illusions, (Polity 1988)
Jesus in Disneyland: Religion in Postmodern Times, (Polity 2000)
Rethinking Church, State and Modernity: Canada between Europe and America, (co-edited with Marguerite Van Die; University of Toronto Press 2000)
Living Stones: St James’ Church Kingston 1845-1995, (Quarry Press 1995)
Some recent articles and book chapters