Surveillance is often used as a tool in resilience strategies towards the threat posed by terrorist attacks and other serious crime. ‘Resilience’ is a contested term with varying and ambiguous meaning in governmental, business and social discourses, and it is not clear how it relates to other terms that characterise processes or states of being. Resilience is often assumed to have positive connotations, but critics view it with great suspicion, regarding it as a neo-liberal governmental strategy. However, we argue that surveillance, introduced in name of greater security, may itself erode social freedoms and public goods such as privacy, paradoxically requiring societal resilience, whether precautionary or in mitigation of the harms it causes to the public goods of free societies. This article develops new models and extends existing ones to describe resilience processes unfolding over time and in anticipation of, or in reaction to, adversities of different kinds and severity, and explores resilience both on the plane of abstract analysis and in the context of societal responses to mass surveillance. The article thus focuses upon surveillance as a special field for conceptual analysis and modelling of situations, and for evaluating contemporary developments in ‘surveillance societies’.
- public goods