The Common Gaze
Surveillance and the Common Good
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Our political spheres are riven with micro-targeted political advertising that degrades the possibilities and incentive for shared, respectful debate. We are producers as well as consumers of data when we record our physical, and sometimes our spiritual, exercise on smartphone apps. The algorithms which identify us, granting us access to state and corporate provision, are not objective but often deeply discriminatory against people of colour and those lower on socio-economic scales.
Offering a ground-breaking new perspective on one of the great concerns of our time, Eric Stoddart examines everyday surveillance in the light of concern for the common good. He reveals the urgent need to challenge data gathering and analysis that weakens the social fabric by dividing people into categories largely based on inferred characteristics, and interprets surveillance in relation to God’s preferential option for those who are poor. The Common Gaze is a call not only for revised surveillance but for better ways of understanding how God sees.
1. Surveillance as a Twenty-first-century Culture 3
2. The Common Gaze as a Twenty-first-century Imaginary 20
3. Influence: Hacking Citizens 45
4. Identity: Quantifying Yourself 94
5. Identification: Algorithms of Oppression and Liberation 141
6. Common Gazing as Public Practice 197
7. Common Gazing as Church Practice 207
Index of Biblical References 245
"In his excellent book The Common Gaze, Eric Stoddart raises crucial issues for us to understand the consequences of surveillance practices. Nowadays, and everywhere, humans are accustomed to surveillance, intertwined with people’s daily life. Stoddart enlightens norms, practices, values, and relations towards surveillance in society and church. A common gaze is both a threat and a foundation for safety and love. Stoddart gives a terrific contribution from a humane, Christian, and Biblical point of view." -- Susanne Wigorts Yngvesson, University College Stockholm
"Eric Stoddart is one of our leading theological commentators on the impact of contemporary technologies on our everyday lives and the challenges they present for church, academy and society. This volume, with its continuing exploration of surveillance as an ever-present and increasing fact of life, continues the vital task of articulating a public and practical theological ethic for our complicated and conflicted times." -- Elaine Graham, University of Chester, UK