Violence Performed in Secret by State Agents: For an Alternative Problematisation of Intelligence Studies

Didier Bigo*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Many analysts of intelligence have noted the transformation of the world of intelligence services in the past 30 years. Among the justifications for this are the transformation of the security situation and the development of asymmetric war and terrorism, instead of the previous justification of ‘bipolarity’. Analysts call for a necessary adaptation to this new situation by obliging intelligence services to collaborate between themselves in order to get a global reach, to develop sophisticated technologies of surveillance, to use them as much as possible to collect the traces left by individuals or groups on the Internet, to have more personnel or to contract private companies to exploit the mass of information, and to push towards the use of artificial intelligence. This has created a huge extension (some would say a colonisation) of other social spaces by professionals of secret services and their collaborators. Private partners, Internet users, privacy analysts, international lawyers, and others who until recently have been unaware of the old ‘spy’ activities, have also entered, sometimes against their will, as ‘amateurs’ in this social space. Using Norbert Elias’ theories, this chapter discusses these dynamics at work, as well as their effects.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProblematising Intelligence Studies
Subtitle of host publicationTowards a New Research Agenda
PublisherTaylor and Francis Inc.
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9781000591347
ISBN (Print)9781032071206
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2022


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