- Class Number 1616
- Term Code 3220
- Class Info
- Unit Value 6 units
- Mode of Delivery In Person
- AsPr Gavin Smith
- AsPr Gavin Smith
- Class Dates
- Class Start Date 17/01/2022
- Class End Date 04/02/2022
- Census Date 21/01/2022
- Last Date to Enrol 21/01/2022
- AsPr Gavin Smith
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 responded to 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 staging individual constructions of identity.
This course considers some of the key historical events, organisational aspirations and cultural factors responsible for the emergence 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 implications 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 and implications 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 processes of surveillance both orally and in writing.
This course draws on A/Prof Smith's 20 years experience researching and writing about surveillance relations.
Additional Course Costs
Examination Material or equipment
As the course will be both general and particular in focus, I have opted for the following indicative texts:
Staff FeedbackStudents will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:
- Written comments
- Verbal comments
- Feedback to the whole class, to groups, to individuals, focus groups
Student FeedbackANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.
This is highly intensive, face-to-face course suited only for students with a capacity and dedication to work independently and intensively and for those with a basic familiarity with the sociological perspective.
|Week/Session||Summary of Activities||Assessment|
|1||This session provides an overview of the various requirements and expectations for SOCY2157. We will contemplate the format and structure of the course as well as review the learning outcomes and assessment. I will introduce the key topics and issues that will be the focus of our attention, and we will also begin to think critically about what precisely surveillance is and how it tends to be popularly represented, perceived and experienced.|
|2||Surveillance has become a familiar feature of today's world. It is utilised in multiple contexts, by multiple users and via multiple means for the visibility it generates. Surveillance, in other words, is exploited to make spaces, bodies, objects, communications and transactions amenable to observation, and this process is increasingly done 'from a distance'. This session considers the scale, reach and sophistication of contemporary surveillance measures and it accentuates the difficulties associated with standard surveillance definitions. It ponders whether invisibility is possible in today's hyper-monitored society: that is, whether the notion of disappearance has itself disappeared.|
|3||Surveillance, and the relations of visibility it evokes, is not a new means of organisation; and neither is it a novel type of social practice. The systematic and architectural monitoring of populations for purposes of insight, taxation and governance date back to antiquity. But the techniques of information gathering and analysis have transformed qualitatively and quantitatively since the onset of modernity. For this reason, it is perhaps useful to distinguish between the 'old' and 'new' surveillance. In this session, we look at some of the historical factors and conditions that have heralded the surveillance society of the present period. We identify the clear link between the emergence of enlightenment values, capitalism, urbanisation, colonialism, bureaucracy, militarisation and nation-state formation, and the need for expanding surveillance infrastructures.|
|4||In this and the next session, we start considering some of the key theories of surveillance. We will look at the seminal literary work, Nineteen Eighty-Four, by George Orwell. Orwell depicts surveillance in distinctly dystopic terms, portraying it as the means through which sovereign states exercise 'total' control over the minds and actions of their citizens. This focus on how conformity to ideals and ideologies is orchestrated is a theme French Philosopher, Michel Foucault, also accentuates. For Foucault, the systems of authority in modernity are founded on panoptic principles and facilitate the diffusion of spatial visibility and disciplinary power. Bodies are objectified by a gaze that renders them knowable and susceptible to expert analysis. But the gaze does merely objectify, it also subjectivates: that is to say, it operates to inscribe approved dispositions. It produces self-monitoring and obedient subjects, subjects who govern their own conduct - and the conduct of others - in accordance with prevailing values.|
|5||Although Orwell and Foucault’s insights have made a significant contribution to popular and scholarly understandings of surveillance, there are other theorists who perceive the 'Big Brother' and 'carceral' metaphors as inadequate descriptors of contemporary surveillance arrangements and operativity. Their ideas have been critiqued on the grounds that they do not adequately account for the impacts of computerisation, connectivity and virtuality. Thus, in this session we ponder some alternative theories of surveillance that either develop or refute the arguments of these thinkers. We can term these post-panoptic conceptualisations of surveillance, approaches which transcend the simplistic dichotomies of vision and power, visibility and vulnerability. We look at notions like 'the surveillant assemblage', 'synopticism', 'exposure', and 'liquid surveillance'. Each of these concepts provide a means to nuance the relational processes transpiring between watchers and watched.|
|6||This session positions practices of surveillance in a context of everyday struggles for empowerment and autonomy - and in a context of desires by some to be left unseen. Surveillance represents and means different things to people as a consequence of how they are socially situated. Moreover, surveillance practices are far from totalising, inevitable or perfect in their scope and operativity. Rather, they are continuously the subject of processes of negotiation, failure and resistance. A system, in other words, is only ever as efficacious as the sum of its social and technical parts. We contemplate some of the types of struggles that define surveillance-subject relations, from the legal and regulatory to the discursive and participatory. While institutions conventionally use surveillance to differentiate individuals into categories of desirability and suspicion that accord with their perceived social positioning and value, data sharing devices are also used by individuals for sousveillance, where the gaze is inverted upwards to expose authority figures and to hold them to account for their actions. Thus surveillance as a social practice is embedded within dialectical struggles between those who synchronously watch and are watched.|
|7||We move from considering theories of surveillance operativity to contexts where surveillance practices are enacted and experienced in diverse ways. This session analyses one of the most iconic surveillance technologies: the closed circuit television (CCTV) camera, and its role in monitoring urban streets. We examine how a Cold War technology that was originally employed in military contexts became so synonymous with the theatre of the street, and with what corresponding consequences for urban governance. We then move from the politics of life beneath the camera, to the operational lifeworld that is situated beyond and behind the camera lens. This enables us to reflect on how surveillance technologies get used and how they affect their overseers in a range of unintended and unseen ways.||Group presentation I: Film analysis|
|8||In this session we explore how surveillance is used to monitor and govern consumption. It is undoubtedly the case that consumers, and wider commodity markets and flows, are now the object of sophisticated tracking techniques by various corporate and state agencies. The buying preferences and habits of individuals are assumed to reveal clues about character, motivation and social group membership, and they permit marketers to sharpen their advertising strategies. But geodemographic information is also of interest to a range of other agencies in the health, law enforcement and insurance fields. Observing consumers is a key feature of data-driven capitalism, and we examine the surveillant means through which this end is achieved, and some of the consequent effects and politics.||Group presentation II: Film analysis|
|9||In this session we focus on the primacy of the body as a territory for surveillant attention and data sharing. Today's technologically driven and saturated world entails that instances of social interactivity between institutions and individuals increasingly occurs at a distance and through the mediation of a computer terminal and screen. As social action and relations have become more mobile and complex, bodies have become progressively susceptible to more detailed forms of monitoring, identification, measurement and classification. We contemplate some of the embodied and social consequences of bodily materials becoming biometric sources, and bodily functions and behaviours being rendered into disembodied data. In particular, we consider the rise of facial recognition technology as a surveillance tool anchored to the body and transformative of how we are identified and tracked. We also think about self-tracking practices, where digital devices are used to visualise bodily performances and physiology, and where the body is voluntarily rendered into an object of knowledge and optimisation.||Group presentation III: Film analysis|
|10||In this session we examine what the notions of performativity and pleasure brings to understandings of surveillance relations. Many surveillance technologies and systems pivot around the practice of performance, in terms of measuring/manipulating bodily performance and stimulating/facilitating it. In this sense, surveillance devices/systems double up as conduits of control but also mediums of expression. We accentuate the ambiguity of surveillance relations by looking at how devices are used for many different ends in the contexts of work and leisure. In particular, we review surveillance research revealing the diverse ways in which acts of seeing and acts of being seen are intersubjectively experienced.||Group presentation IV: Film analysis|
|11||In this session we explore the surveillance of childhood. Childhood is a key life stage for diverse forms of monitoring, from parents concerned about child safety and development, to marketers seeking to track the consumption patterns of young people to sharpen advertising strategies. Children also routinely participate in self-surveillance and the surveillance of their peers, especially through their use of digital devices and via gaming practices. The school is a key site in which surveillance of children becomes normalised. Schools have always been sites of measurement and disciplinary training, but there has been a recent intensification in their surveillance capacity as a result of technological advancement and moral panics attesting to child safety, teaching practices and failing socialisation programs. We will ponder the notion of the 'surveillance school' and consider the consequences of this educative structure in terms of young people being conditioned into surveillant-compliant attitudes and behaviours.||Group presentation V: Film analysis|
|12||In this final session we consider the intricate relationship between surveillance and public health. Health is a key site for surveillance relations, with clinician-patient interactions, medical records, health prevention and epidemiology all contributing at different scales to the accumulation of biopolitical knowledge on and about populations, and leveraging of biopower. As an example, we look at how the recent coronavirus pandemic has fundamentally transformed the surveillance landscape, providing the biopolitical and political economic means for new surveillance apparatuses to be introduced and used but also for the development and normalisation of new surveillance practices. As with all surveillance relations, how technologies and programs intersect with everyday life is messy and ambivalent, with forms of care and control underpinning the operation and experience of 'dis-ease surveillance'.||Group presentation VI: Film analysis|
Online via Wattle site
|Assessment task||Value||Due Date||Learning Outcomes|
|Research essay||30 %||24/01/2022||1, 3, 4|
|Seminar participation||15 %||*||2-4|
|Group presentation: film analysis||15 %||*||3-4|
|Take-home exam||40 %||14/02/2022||1-4|
* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details
PoliciesANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines, which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Misconduct Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:
Assessment RequirementsThe ANU is using Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website Students may choose not to submit assessment items through Turnitin. In this instance you will be required to submit, alongside the assessment item itself, hard copies of all references included in the assessment item.
Moderation of AssessmentMarks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.
Given the interactive nature of the curriculum, students taking this course are expected to attend. Students are also expected to read, as a bare minimum, each of the session core readings, actively participate in lectures and seminars and conduct at least 112 hours of independent study. This is a reading-intensive and student-led course, so you need to be prepared to invest effort and conduct self-directed study to perform well. It goes without saying that the more that you put into the course, the more you will get from it!
This course doesn't have a formal examination per se, but rather a take-home exam assessment that must be completed within a specified timeframe.
Assessment Task 1
Learning Outcomes: 1, 3, 4
The research essay assessment incorporates LOs 1, 3 and 4 and require students to complete independent research to craft an essay in 2000 words explaining the complex factors responsible for surveillance growth and normalisation. Submissions should be double-spaced. This is a hurdle assessment.
Assessment Task 2
Learning Outcomes: 2-4
The seminar participation assessment component incorporates LOs 2-4 and requires students to read independently and formulate critical analyses of surveillance processes as well as scholarly accounts of surveillance that are discussed in small and large groups. It requires students to critically reflect on their learning and personal experiences to contribute to academic and social understandings of surveillance. This is a hurdle assessment.
Assessment Task 3
Learning Outcomes: 3-4
Group presentation: film analysis
The group presentation incorporates LOs 2-4 and requires students to work and collaborate as a group in critically applying ideas and concepts from surveillance studies to analyse the content and narrative of a popular cultural surveillance film. This assessment is to last 20-minutes. This is a hurdle assessment.
Assessment Task 4
Learning Outcomes: 1-4
The take-home exam assessment component incorporates LOs 1-4 and requires students to conduct independent research and write, in 2500 words, a critical essay on a surveillance relation that integrates key learning from the course content such as theories, concepts and research from surveillance studies, and substantive empirical examples to consolidate the argument formulated. Submissions should be double-spaced. Late submissions will not be accepted. This is a hurdle assessment.
Academic IntegrityAcademic integrity is a core part of our culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically. This means that all members of the community commit to honest and responsible scholarly practice and to upholding these values with respect and fairness. The Australian National University commits to embedding the values of academic integrity in our teaching and learning. We ensure that all members of our community understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. The ANU expects staff and students to uphold high standards of academic integrity and act ethically and honestly, to ensure the quality and value of the qualification that you will graduate with. The University has policies and procedures in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Visit the following Academic honesty & plagiarism website for more information about academic integrity and what the ANU considers academic misconduct. The ANU offers a number of services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. The Academic Skills and Learning Centre offers a number of workshops and seminars that you may find useful for your studies.
Online SubmissionThe ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.
Hardcopy SubmissionFor some forms of assessment (hand written assignments, art works, laboratory notes, etc.) hard copy submission is appropriate when approved by the Associate Dean (Education). Hard copy submissions must utilise the Assignment Cover Sheet. Please keep a copy of tasks completed for your records.
Late SubmissionNo submission of assessment tasks without an extension after the due date will be permitted. If an assessment task is not submitted by the due date, a mark of 0 will be awarded. OR Late submission of assessment tasks without an extension are penalised at the rate of 5% of the possible marks available per working day or part thereof. Late submission of assessment tasks is not accepted after 10 working days after the due date, or on or after the date specified in the course outline for the return of the assessment item. Late submission is not accepted for take-home examinations.
Referencing RequirementsAccepted academic practice for referencing sources that you use in presentations can be found via the links on the Wattle site, under the file named “ANU and College Policies, Program Information, Student Support Services and Assessment”. Alternatively, you can seek help through the Students Learning Development website.
Assignments will be returned electronically with feedback if required via Wattle.
Extensions and PenaltiesExtensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure The Course Convener may grant extensions for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.
Resubmission of Assignments
Students are not permitted to re-submit assignments.
Distribution of grades policyAcademic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes. Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.
Support for studentsThe University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).
- ANU Health, safety & wellbeing for medical services, counselling, mental health and spiritual support
- ANU Diversity and inclusion for students with a disability or ongoing or chronic illness
- ANU Dean of Students for confidential, impartial advice and help to resolve problems between students and the academic or administrative areas of the University
- ANU Academic Skills and Learning Centre supports you make your own decisions about how you learn and manage your workload.
- ANU Counselling Centre promotes, supports and enhances mental health and wellbeing within the University student community.
- ANUSA supports and represents undergraduate and ANU College students
- PARSA supports and represents postgraduate and research students
Surveillance, Facial Recognition, Data Politics, The Body, Wildlife Ecology
AsPr Gavin Smith
AsPr Gavin Smith