Surveillance as an Urban Way of Life

Authored by: Roy Coleman

The Routledge Companion to Urban Media and Communication

Print publication date:  October  2019
Online publication date:  September  2019

Print ISBN: 9780415792554
eBook ISBN: 9781315211633
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter provides insight into the main theoretical tools developed to think about surveillance and its relationship to socio-spatial identities, divisions, and justice. Some might assume that surveillance is a seamless gaze of control and transparency. On the contrary, it is uneven and partial in practice. The kind of information and knowledge that surveillance accumulates reflects, reinforces, and sometimes challenges the interests and priorities of powerful ways of seeing the city and the people in it. At the heart of media technologies, surveillance involves watching and being watched in ubiquitous and semi-visible ways. Surveillance is connected to the right to visibility and invisibility as well as the right to urban habitation and belongingness in the city.

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