Information Asymmetry and Power in a Surveillance Society

Geoff Lightfoot

University of Leicester - Management Centre

Tomasz Piotr Wisniewski

University of Leicester

January 22, 2014

This paper fuses Lukes’ (1974) three-dimensional view of power with the economic concept of informational asymmetry to explicate how access to information is organized and how power relationships arise from this organization. We argue that many observed asymmetries are deliberate and, drawing from the economics and finance literature, we posit that their outcomes are inevitably detrimental. The paper examines the techniques that foster information imbalances, such as media and propaganda, knowledge production, educational systems, legal and organizational structures, exclusive information networks, and surveillance. We conclude that in the absence of greater transparency, the deleterious effects of unequal access to information will continue and deepen. We further suggest that the analysis of the complexities of the issues warrants a broad, multidisciplinary approach and we suggest what this might include.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 49

Keywords: Information Asymmetry, Power, Surveillance, Secrecy

JEL Classification: G38, I31, O31, Z13

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Date posted: January 23, 2014 ; Last revised: September 4, 2014

Suggested Citation

Lightfoot, Geoff and Wisniewski, Tomasz Piotr, Information Asymmetry and Power in a Surveillance Society (January 22, 2014). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2383166 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2383166

Contact Information

Geoff Lightfoot (Contact Author)
University of Leicester - Management Centre ( email )
United Kingdom
Tomasz Piotr Wisniewski
University of Leicester ( email )
University Road
Leicester, LE1 7RH
United Kingdom
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