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An interrupted transmission? Processes of CCTV implementation and the impact of human agency

Fussey, P (2007) 'An interrupted transmission? Processes of CCTV implementation and the impact of human agency.' Surveillance and Society, 4 (3). 229 - 256. ISSN 1477-7487

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Abstract

© 2007 Surveillance & Society and the author(s). All rights reserved. This paper examines the processes that bring about the creation of new public-space CCTV schemes. Through an appraisal of the grounded activities of the practitioners who make decisions over CCTV, the role of agency is identified as a particularly strong, yet relatively neglected, influence on its implementation. Moreover, beyond dichotomised notions of central structures and local agency, an understanding is developed of the complex interaction between the individual actors involved in CCTV dissemination and the political context in which they operate. In doing so, public policy is identified as the vehicle through which camera surveillance systems become installed and disseminated throughout public space. Moreover, these various forces of structure and agency become filtered through identifiable networks of policy-makers, comprising ‘responsibilised’ actors who oversee the deployment of CCTV. This analysis is used to revisit a range of administrative and theoretical understandings of surveillance, including: citations of CCTV as an evaluated response to crime; the attribution of power- and interest-based agendas to its implementation; and accounts which locate CCTV expansion within various evolving societal processes. Drawing on qualitative fieldwork data gathered during doctoral research, the paper considers the activities of practitioners at a local level and identifies crucial contexts, drivers and negotiations on which expanding surveillance is contingent. Ultimately, it is argued that the process of CCTV installation – from conception to material implementation – is disrupted and mediated by a range of micro -level operations, obligations, processes, managerial concerns (particularly conflict resolution and resource issues), structures and agency, and the indirect influence of central government. These not only arbitrate over whether the CCTV becomes installed, but also generate a range of additional uses for the cameras, many of which are performed before they are even switched on. This emphasises the need to consider the processes that enable and constrain the actions of those making decisions over CCTV and demonstrates how no single interest becomes solely participant in the deployment of surveillance. Finally, because of the centrality and contingency of both human agency and the structural contexts in which it operates in determining the installation of CCTV, questions arise concerning the importance of integrative sociological theories in understanding the deployment of surveillance.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
K Law > K Law (General)
T Technology > T Technology (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Sociology, Department of
Depositing User: Jim Jamieson
Date Deposited: 19 Dec 2012 15:12
Last Modified: 04 Feb 2019 14:15
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/4805

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