Cover image for
Windows into the soul : surveillance and society in an age of high technology / Gary T. Marx.
Marx, Gary T., author.
Chicago ; London : The University of Chicago Press, [2016]
xxii, 404 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
022628588X (cloth : alk. paper)

022628591X (pbk. : alk. paper)

9780226285887 (cloth : alk. paper)

9780226285917 (pbk. : alk. paper)

9780226286075 (e-book)


Material Type
Call Number
Book HM846.M392

On Order



We live in an age saturated with surveillance. Our personal and public lives are increasingly on display for governments, merchants, employers, hackers--and the merely curious--to see. In Windows into the Soul , Gary T. Marx, a central figure in the rapidly expanding field of surveillance studies, argues that surveillance itself is neither good nor bad, but that context and comportment make it so.

In this landmark book, Marx sums up a lifetime of work on issues of surveillance and social control by disentangling and parsing the empirical richness of watching and being watched. Using fictional narratives as well as the findings of social science, Marx draws on decades of studies of covert policing, computer profiling, location and work monitoring, drug testing, caller identification, and much more, Marx gives us a conceptual language to understand the new realities and his work clearly emphasizes the paradoxes, trade-offs, and confusion enveloping the field. Windows into the Soul shows how surveillance can penetrate our social and personal lives in profound, and sometimes harrowing, ways. Ultimately, Marx argues, recognizing complexity and asking the right questions is essential to bringing light and accountability to the darker, more iniquitous corners of our emerging surveillance society.

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Author Notes

Gary T. Marx is professor emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the author of Undercover: Police Surveillance in America . His writings have appeared in numerous publications, including the New York Times , Wall Street Journal , Washington Post , and New Republic .

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Sociologists have grappled with the increasing presence of surveillance in everyday life. Early notions about surveillance from Orwell to Huxley suggested apocalyptic doom. In his most recent and grandest work on the subject, Marx (emer., MIT) wrestles with the behemoth that is surveillance, attempting to synthesize the burgeoning field of surveillance studies while maintaining skepticism of its tendency toward pessimism about the implications of surveillance technologies' exponential growth. The book can be summed up with one sentence: "Surveillance is neither good nor bad but context and comportment make it so (most of the time)." (emphasis in original) Where Foucault saw increased social control, Marx acknowledges the fallibility and duality of surveillance as well as the increased possibility of resistance or neutralization. In his conceptual text, Marx is primarily interested in what the new surveillance means for knowledge. As such, he offers a conceptual map for scholars to tackle the murky moments of the new surveillance, from Snowden to polygraphs. Employing unorthodox methods for sociology, including fictional chapters, the work is an important contribution to surveillance studies and to the field of sociology as a whole. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels/libraries. --Julie Anne Beicken, Rocky Mountain College

Table of Contents

Part 1 Concepts: The Need for a Modest but Persistent Analyticity
1 Defining the Terms of Surveillance Studies
2 So What's New? Classifying Means for Change and Continuity
3 So What's Old? Classifying Goals for Continuity and Change
4 The Stuff of Surveillance: Varieties of Personal Information
Part 2 Social Processes
5 Social Processes in Surveillance
6 A Tack in the Shoe and Taking the Shoe Off: Resistance and Counters to Resistance
Part 3 Culture and Contexts
7 Work: The Omniscient Organization Measures Everything That Moves
8 Children: Slap That Baby's Bottom, Embed That ID Chip, and Let It Begin
9 The Private within the Public: Psychological Report on Tom I. Voire
10 A Mood Apart: What's Wrong with Tom?
11 Government and More: A Speech by Hon. Rocky Bottoms to the Society for the Advancement of Professional Surveillance
Part 4 Ethics and Policy
12 Techno-Fallacies of the Information Age
13 An Ethics for the New (and Old) Surveillance
14 Windows into Hearts and Souls: Clear, Tinted, or Opaque Today?
Appendix: A Note on Values: Neither Technophobe nor Technophile