Surveillane in Society

Surveillance in Society
Control in Modern Society
Traditional societies were small, intimate
– Rule breaking was easily detected and punished
Modern societies are large & anonymous and,
therefore, highly private
– Fewer social controls, less scrutiny
How are order and trust to be maintained in
the face of privacy and anonymity?
The Answer: Surveillance
Steven Nock’s Essay
Anonymous societies rely on reputation
– Conformity -> good reputation
– Deviance -> bad reputation
Strangers have no prior reputation to us
– We rely on credentials (group memberships,
resumes) and ordeals (drug tests, lie detectors,
electronic searches, etc.) to assess them
The potential for scrutiny is a powerful
form of social control that induces conformity
Culture of Surveillance
NYC – over 2,000 public video cameras
Nearly 90% of U.S. manufacturers test for
drugs among their employees
A Mass. company tracks web surfing habits of
over 30 million internet users
The Functions of Surveillance
Manifest function: Detect deviance
– Catch the bad guys (who can disagree?)
Latent function: Deter deviance
– For most, the threat of detection will deter –
(threatens one’s stakes in conformity)
Department of Justice Report, May 2000
Need for cost-effective ways to supervise
criminals & enhance safety
– Electronic tracking and location systems
(bracelets, skin implants)
– Pharmocological control of behavior
– Genetic risk assessment -> gene management
– Risk assessment
It Could be Anyone
We are all potential suspects!
How much surveillance is too much?
– Should we have hidden cameras in classrooms to
prevent cheating? How about dorm rooms to
prevent drug use, property damage, or premarital
Should We Care?
Fourth Amendment, U.S. Constitution: The
right of the people to be secure in their
persons, houses, papers, and effects, against
unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not
be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but
upon probable cause, supported by Oath or
affirmation, and particularly describing the
place to be searched, and the persons or things
to be seized.