A two-part Special Issue of the journal Information Polity (ISSN: 1570-1255) aims to revisit the ‘surveillance camera revolution’. It presents contemporary thinking and research on the use of Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV), and draws out issues relating to governance and public policy.
The special issue of Information Polity consists of two issues: 16:4 and 17:1. 16:4 is available online now, 17.1 will be published in February 2012.
Video surveillance cameras and systems are a defining feature of modern society. Their widespread use is now unsurprising and generally accepted in most countries. In the first part of the special issue (16:4) theoretically informed contributions from a variety of academic disciplines are employed, as are comparative and case studies. The special issue places particular emphasis on studies of video surveillance in different national, institutional, cultural and linguistic settings, as they relate to the provision of these systems in public service and democratic contexts. Whilst current academic debates on CCTV are heavily influenced by Anglophone literatures and examples, this special issue brings together a more international collection of authors and studies, and provides insights into the modalities and developments of CCTV in a range of national and linguistic contexts. This approach elucidates specific national and institutional characteristics, and also highlights broader cross-cultural trends in current CCTV developments and policies.
The academic studies and discourses that have sought to comprehend this ‘revolution’ have been dominated by perspectives emanating from law, criminology, sociology and geography. Alongside the grand narratives about surveillance in society, have been descriptive studies of specific cases. There has also been a series of ethnographic analyses that have started to show the significance of context and the institutional settings in which cameras are deployed, as well as their importance as explanatory factors in how video surveillance works, is used, and is integrated into the broader polity. The second part of the special issue (17:1) contributes to this tradition of scholarship. But whereas issues of governance and public policy have rarely been explicitly addressed by social scientists, it also aims to fill this gap. It focuses on the ways in which the implementation of cameras and systems -and their operational and technical features- are the product of decisions and policies made in a variety of contexts and by a variety of authorities and interested parties.