• The principle logics and practices of control have been profoundly transformed by the proliferation and development of surveillance
technologies. Surveillance has now infiltrated a variety of public and private functions, via a monopoly of techniques and technologies,
often performed with multiple objectives in mind.
• It is no longer under the domain of solely formal social control agencies, but in being decoupled from them, surveillance has effectively
been rendered more systematic and intense.
• The development and dispersal of technologies for the monitoring of conduct has established surveillance as one of the principle modes
in which late modern societies seek to modify behavior, regulate deviance, and respond to problems of order.
• The proliferation of the “electronic eyes” of CCTV systems in both public spaces (like town centres), and more private spaces (like the
workplace or malls) represents one of the most visible manifestations of the expansion of the “control net”. However, there are a range
of less obvious and more invisible methods of surveillance.
• Surveillance-...any collection and processing of personal data, whether identifiable or not, for the purposes of influencing or managing
those whose data have been garnered (Lyon).
• Thus, surveillance involves the purposive monitoring of conduct to allow for the identification, acquisition, and classification of
information with the intention of modifying that conduct in some manner.
• We are not, despite the growth in literature on surveillance, witnessing the emergence of a new mode of control. As part of group life,
communities have always developed mechanisms for observation of each other’s conduct...it is NOT a new development due to
o e.g. Sennet- architecture in ancient Rome and Greece was designed to make some forms of conduct routinely publicly
o People were nominated to monitor the population to identify outbreaks of Black Death/plagues.
o Foucault described this system of surveillance, where the figure of the “syndic” was appointed from the members of the
community to keep watch over the spread of disease. In turn, the “syndic” was monitored by the “intendents”, who reported
to the magistrates, who, in turn, reported to the mayor.
• Thus, the development of apparatus for conducting surveillance over populations was central to the development of the late modern
nation-state and the mechanisms by which fundamentally coercive political regimes sought to retain their domination over the citizenry
• What is innovative about late-modern surveillance systems is how the observation is conducted, and the depth and scale that it involves
o Thus, perhaps it is better to make the distinction between old and new, or modern and postmodern surveillance styles
• The first key characteristic of new surveillance is extent to which it is embedded within the routines of everyday life
o Late-modern citizens have quickly become accustomed to having their behavior purposively monitored in a range of
venues, such as: residential areas, schools, cash machines, town centres, retail and commercial centres, sports stadiums,
• The second key characteristic is that it tends to be based upon remote observation, performed via a mediating technology. Lyon argues
that it is disembodied.
o Captured by deployment of CCTV cameras in range of urban and suburban locations
o Surveillance has proliferated and become increasingly systematized across a range of public and private arenas, as a result
of the situating of a variety of technologies with monitoring capacities in the previously mentioned arenas.
o In the process, some surveillance functions have become increasingly hidden, while others have been rendered more
• Surveillance is then a central issue for those seeking to understand the social ordering practices of late modern societies
• We now turn to the two key theoretical perspective on surveillance: (1) Disciplinary surveillance theory, and (2) liberal surveillance theory
• The most influential theory of surveillance is by Foucault, and in particular, his concepts of “discipline” and “panopticism”. These ideas
have been developed by the post-social control perspective.
• He wanted to document how the era of modernity saw a transformation in the logics and technologies of power. These technologies
were based upon the collection and production of knowledge.
• Foucault-The key transformation wrought by the enlightenment and the naissance of modernity was in conduct of state power, the
o Whereas previously the authority of the sovereign state had relied upon coercive force in order to supjugate citizens to its
command and control, the modern state developed new technologies of power for performance of this function, which were
progressively dispersed throughout key strategic institutional sites in society.
o Key to this configuration of power was the emergence of discipline, which is a form of automatized power, wherein subject
of the regime is induced to become self-regulating, so as to act “normally”.
o He argued that the generation of this reflexive and mostly unnoticed automatic monitoring of the self was based upon
principles of “panoptic” surveillance.
• The panopticon was an architectural prison design presented by Bentham in 18th century, based on the principles of panoptic
o Bentham’s aim was to show how exercise of power within confines of prison system could be rationalized, with intention of
improving reformation of posited deviant natures of the inmates
o By designing potential for constant surveillance into architecture of the prison, the inmate would be encouraged to accede to
power of the regime and become normalized
• For Foucault, significance of Bentham’s design was as paradigmatic example that captures wider and deeper transformation in conduct
of governance throughout society at this stage of modernity
o The design of the prison set out the principles of a logic of panopticism, involving the automatization and deindividualization
of power through systematic observation o This concept has transformed the function of a number of key social establishments such as prisons, schools, hospitals,
mental hospitals, etc.
• The progressive dispersal and development of discipline and principles of panopticism was facilitated by the development of new
institutions but also as result of ways in which it infiltrated established institutions, and transformed them from within. This was
important to the development of the state’s administrative control apparatus, which became increasingly adept at collecting data on
various aspects of the lives and work of the citizenry, data increasingly used for the design of more, and more effective, government
o This established a capacity to engage in the “governing of the soul” through the regulation of physical bodies, based upon
the continual, and ongoing, management and training of subjectivity, constituting a key shift in the relations between the
state and the citizen.
o Thus, for Foucault, development of web of surveillance was both a product of, and productive of, a particular approach to
This latter dimension is important to his argument because for Foucault, the automation of surveillance also
occurred in respect of monitoring technology
Surveillance is not only directed outwards to external population, but also inwards to reflexively monitor
operations of machine itself
• Many writers who have attempted to understand growth and development of information and communication technologies in
performance of surveillance functions have found in Foucault’s work, resources to assist them in this area
o e.g. Poster talks of presence of superpanopticon where ICTs (information and communication technologies) provide
capacity for vast amounts of data to be routinely captured and quickly processed, and are thus perfect instruments to
accelerate and amplify conduct of surveillance. Large amounts of data on a large number of activities can be aggregated to
a central point and thereby used to monitor how people are acting. This in turn can premise more effective interventions.
• Overall, the logic of surveillance propounded by Foucauldian scholarship is essentially ‘dystopic’
o It argues that era of modernity was based upon emergence of mode of rationally oriented power informed by particular
discursively framed epistemologies, where subjects were subtly persuaded to control their own conduct.
o Coercion was no longer chiefly n explicit thing, rather, for the most part, it was implicitly integrated into the routine of
everyday life, as the controls became increasingly fine-grained and effective, penetrating ever deeper into the psyche.
o We are thus increasingly controlled and regulated.
• Lyon offers more positive account of logic of surveillance and its relation to late modernity.
o He argues that the primary stimulus to expansion of surveillance has been changes in institutional order of society
o For him, the rise and development of surveillance reflects changes in nature of social order, interaction and relations in late
o We are living in a society that is increasingly mobile, flexible and adaptable. With it, changes in economic, political and
social order come about,
• Giddens: Society is coping with the effects of “disembedding”, wherein routine social conduct and social and economic interactions no
longer relies upon co-presence. Building on Gidden’s notion, surveillance provides surrogate mechanism for generating sense of trust
between people who are either engaged in forms of ‘action at a distance,’ or who have not had the chance to develop such social
bonds over time in a more organic manner
o e.g how computers are used to identify traces of virtual or dematerialized social transactions and exchanges in order to
classify them as normal or deviant
• For Lyon, it is the change in conduct of ordinary transactions and interactions that has created conditions for proliferation of surveillance.
Surveillance allows for provision of sense of trust and security in a society that values freedom, flexibility and mobility in its social,
political and economic arrangements. Thus, yon argues that surveillance has two faces:
o On the one hand, it encapsulates a caring sense of watching over and assisting in manufacture of objective and subjective
security (a familiar rhetoric in crime control debates and claims made for more surveillance).
o At the same time, there is potential for bleaker more pessimistic future, where positive effects of surveillance systems are
eroded, and evolve into an unrelenting and pervasive system of control.
• A key facet in liberal surveillance theory is notion that changes in economic relations and political economic order have acted as a
precursor to expansion and development of surveillance
o This idea supported by work of Coleman and Sim in their critique of CCTV in Liverpool.
o They argue that the use of cameras for surveillance was driven by economic imperatives to attract shoppers and their
custom to area rather than any metaphysical or physical concern with inculcating self discipline
• It was desire to establish Parenti’s “theme park city” that…
o Provided primary motivating factor for investing in CCTV by the scheme affiliates
o The objective was to reassure potential consumers about their security, by utilizing surveillance technologies to assist in
identifying and thus controlling those groups whose behavior might upset economic order and thus inhibit accumulation of
• Reg Whittaker presents different facet of liberal surveillance theory when he argues (contra the Foucatian position) that there is certain
inevitability regarding the development of a continuous, all-encompassing, all seeing panopticon
o He maintains that, situated in broader understanding of ongoing developments in key political institutions, what is made
evident is the extent to which the emergence of enhanced surveillance capacities is marked by ambivalence
In effect, surveillance as mode of control necessarily generates meta-controls, which provide a secondary form of
control in terms of how, where, when and over whom surveillance is deemed to be legitimate
Further, as well as promising new ways to control behavior, surveillance also generates new sites and methods of
• Gary Marx notes that civic participation frequently requires democratic citizen to actively participate in and accede to processes of
o e.g. banking services, medical care, jobs, credit, etc. all routinely involve the individual in a regimen of surveillance. As a
result, records kept about our different aspects of our economic and social lives become core components of our social
selves. o Further developing Goffman’s idea, he argues that the presentation of self in everyday life routinely involves and
necessitates the presentation of a “data self”.
o Marx describes that the ubiquity of data selves opens up new vistas in terms of how both deviance and control can be
enacted, but equally importantly it provokes a refiguring of more established elements of the control apparatus
• Overall, despite Marx’s attempts at a dialectical synthesis, there’s a basic tension between disciplinary and liberal surveillance theories.
Disciplinary surveillance theory, pivoting around the panoptic concept, tend to describe a scenario wherein the accumulation of data
for disciplinary purposes is conducted almost exclusively by the state and its agencies.
• In contract, the liberal surveillance perspective more easily accommodates the extent to which much of the growth in surveillance
recently has been the result of actions taken by commercial and corporate enterprises, who are less concerned with the strategies and
technologies of governmentality. Rather than focusing on the centralizing tendencies of the panopticon, they tend to employ the
metaphor of the network to describe the organization of surveillance throughout society, and is thus aligned with the post-social
We now look at impacts of the integration of surveillance technologies, which have had effects on the following 3 areas. A key component of the
impacts that have occurred relate to the potentials offered by micro-chips and computers to collect and process large amounts of data,
faster. Thus, it isn’t surprising that they have found ready use in the conduct of surveillance. The dynamics and development are
important though, because the social-shaping of the technology is a significant dimesion in terms of explaining how things have unfolded
in a particular way.
Crime Control Work
• Use of surveillance in relation to ongoing attempts to control crime is most visible and widely known
• Surveillance has been most widely implemented in Britain, where large amounts of money have been invested in developing CCTV
systems, which were justified on basis that they are effective weapons in fight against crime, and that it is argued that they can reduce
the levels of victimization of users of the location.
o They are held to work by deterring people from engaging in criminal activity in the first place, by increasing potential
offender’s perception of likelihood of them being caught. Then, if it failed in this function, it can assist police in identifying
• Studies, however, question the assumptions that underpinned the spread of CCTV as a crime control measure.
• Brown’s overview reported that introduction of CCTV in Birmingham had little impact upon crimes such as robbery and theft from the
person. He also argued that there was some evidence of displacement.
o Noted failure to produce evidence of belief of efficacy of CCTV surveillance systems
• Norris and Armstrong report that scientific evaluations of CCTV schemes have failed to consistently produce evidence to support the
public’s beliefs about the efficacy of CCTV surveillance systems. They also found that operators use their own understandings and
biases about what constitute