6th Biannual Surveillance and Society Conference

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference


'The Affective Dimension of Surveillance' Abstract: This paper aims to outline the contours of possible study of the emotional dimensions to surveillance. Whereas there exists a substantial and convincing body of research on aspects such as the practical operation, instrumental aims and wider social roles of surveillance, another possible line of enquiry is to explore the emotional reactions experienced by those involved in the production and consumption of surveillance media. Surveillance typically involves either the surveillance of communications media, and/or the generation of surveillance media recording and documenting people’s activities. Drawing from research in media studies and cognate areas, and focusing in particular on studies of the reception and interpretation of media, this paper argues that the emotional experiences attendant in the production and consumption of surveillance media, as well as the emotional experiences involved in being the (potential) target of surveillance, are not only important but sometimes marginalised qualities of surveillance, but may also be revealing as to what is most problematic about surveillance. As such, it is further argued that the affective dimension of surveillance is intimately related both to individual sensibilities about privacy and to political concerns surrounding surveillance’s use. Through reference to certain illustrative examples, the paper develops a simple theoretical framework to help guide research in this area. The paper concludes by exploring the implications flowing from this analysis, both for academic research and political action.
Period25 Apr 2014
Event typeConference
LocationBarcelona, Spain