Culture, Surveillance, and Power: Understanding Compliance to Digital Pandemic Surveillance in Taiwan

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In both democratic and authoritarian regimes across the world, governments increasingly use digital technologies to monitor and alter the behavior of residents within their borders. While the tools employed are similar across various political systems, the ways in which individuals comply and resist government-sponsored surveillance depend on a myriad of factors. This article examines the ways in which young adults in Taiwan engaged with the widespread use of digital surveillance during the COVID-19 pandemic. How was compliance and resistance toward enhanced government-sponsored digital surveillance mediated between the state and young adults in Taiwan? Taiwan’s unique political culture played a key role in ensuring compliance to state monitoring, and this article argues that young adults in Taiwan complied with pandemic surveillance out of the population’s reverence for protecting society, peer and familial pressures, and a fear of social stigma cast upon those that carelessly spread the virus. To make this case, the article draws upon more than 50 hours of interviews and focus groups with young adults and state officials from Taiwan. It identifies key causal factors behind one of the world’s most successful pandemic responses, which relied heavily upon the wide acceptance of digital pandemic surveillance.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Indo-Pacific Affairs
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2022


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