This course provides an introduction to the interdisciplinary field of surveillance studies.
Surveillance technologies and practices form an increasingly familiar part of our daily lives: data are made and shared as we commute, work, consume and browse. And yet, we know very little about how surveillance operates and how the data these systems produce are used to positively and negatively structure our social experiences, in terms of how we are viewed and treated by other actors and agencies. Personal data are a means of knowledge and power and they are put to many different ends, from governing large populations to individual constructions of identity.
This course considers some of the key historical events, organisational aspirations and cultural factors responsible for the development of surveillance societies. Students will learn about the political, social, legal and ethical dimensions and implications of mass surveillance, specifically by drawing on some of the major theories in surveillance studies. We explore the interests and values underpinning the expansion of surveillance, the types of regulatory frameworks governing surveillance and the complex forms of social relations mediating surveillance processes. We will focus on various research examples to develop our knowledge and understanding of the social drivers and impacts of surveillance.
The four main questions informing our coverage are:
1. What social and historical circumstances have generated the surveillance society?
2. How did mass surveillance of everyday life become so normal?
3. What purposes and interests does surveillance serve?
4. How does surveillance operate and with what social consequences?
Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:
- identify the social and historical factors responsible for the intensification of surveillance;
- evaluate the diverse social impacts of surveillance processes;
- analyse the merits of concepts, theories and methods used by researchers to explain surveillance practices and policies; and
- discuss their learning in relation to surveillance both orally and in writing.
- Book review, 2000 words (30) [LO 1,2,3,4]
- Seminar participation (15) [LO 1,2,3,4]
- Synthesis examination, 3 hours plus 15 minutes reading time (40) [LO 1,2,3,4]
- Group presentation: Film analysis, 20 mins (15) [LO 3,4]
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Workload130 hours of total student learning time made up from:
a) 35 hours of contact over 12 weeks: 24 hours of workshops, and 11 hours of student-led seminars; and
b) 95 hours of independent student research, reading and writing.
Requisite and Incompatibility
Assumed KnowledgeA basic understanding of sociological and/or criminological thinking and approaches.
Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.
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- Student Contribution Band:
- Unit value:
- 6 units
If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees. Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.