Irresistible bargains: Navigating the surveillance society

  • Robert M. Pallitto Seton Hall University
Keywords: technology, surveillance, smart cities, Internet of Things, bargaining, social contract, self, data doubles, data brokers, information sharing


Agents in contemporary societies are faced continually with choices regarding engagement with technological artifacts. They can choose to engage or decline engagement after considering the costs and benefits in each case. However, certain aspects of the surveillance society may be irresistible in a number of ways, so that refusal to engage with them is not a realistic option. The proliferation of the Internet of Things (IoT), particularly as embedded in “smart city” initiatives, helps to make surveillance technologies potentially irresistible. After laying the conceptual groundwork for discussing irresistible bargains, this essay offers a two-part normative critique, focusing on the asymmetrical power relations engendered by smart cities as well as harms inflicted on the self.

Author Biography

Robert M. Pallitto, Seton Hall University

Associate Professor and Chair

Department of Political S cience and Public Affairs

How to Cite
Pallitto, R. M. (2018). Irresistible bargains: Navigating the surveillance society. First Monday, 23(2).