We often hold our breath when we read spy novels or watch spy movies, but in the real world we regard espionage with fear and suspicion. Its secretive nature leads to feelings of distrust, which are reinforced by news items involving murky political manipulations, deviant intelligence services, and chronic scandals. The consequent diffidence has contributed to the dearth of detailed studies (except for investigative journalism, which however often borders on fiction) on espionage, even in its less objectionable defence or security intelligence variant. The author explains the need to throw light on this grey area in order to improve our understanding of the mechanisms underlying power and information asymmetry in contemporary society. Espionage - in all its economic, political, and military forms - features typical organizational and moral dilemmas that underpin social relationships.
Antonio Mutti teaches Economic Sociology and Sociology of Development at the University of Pavia.