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Surveillance and Ethnography : Researching Surveillance as Everyday Life

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Nicola Green

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND).


Abstract

This article argues for a wider and more nuanced understanding of ethnography’s role in Surveillance Studies than has sometimeshistorically been the case. The article begins by (briefly) deconstructing some of the ways that the concepts of both ‘surveillance’and ‘ethnography’ have been deployed in empirical surveillance research over time, in order to set the scene for a criticalinterrogation of the variety of ethnographic approaches so far used within Surveillance Studies. The paper then goes on to reviewSurveillance Studies approaches broadly, and a range of qualitative and ethnographically-informed approaches in particular,within interdisciplinary empirical research related to surveillance relations. The ensuing discussion identifies several points wherethe existing empirical evidence base would benefit from more extensive ethnographic studies, at multiple sites and scales, thatmethodologically recognize surveillance as situated and meaningful everyday life processes and practices, rather than surveillantactivities and relationships in settings defined as ‘surveillance’ in an a priori fashion. The article concludes by suggesting thatapproaches oriented towards empirically understanding surveillance practices as ‘everyday life’ have a significant futurecontribution to make, particularly with respect to building and developing our theoretical understandings of surveillantassemblages in everyday life contexts.


Publication metadata

Author(s): Green N, Zurawski N

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Surveillance and Society

Year: 2015

Volume: 13

Issue: 1

Pages: 27-43

Online publication date: 31/03/2015

Acceptance date: 01/12/2014

Date deposited: 02/04/2017

ISSN (electronic): 1477-7487

Publisher: Surveillance Studies Network

URL: http://ojs.library.queensu.ca/index.php/surveillance-and-society/article/view/ethno


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