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The 'Surveillance Society': Questions of History, Place and Culture (2009)

Author(s): Murakami Wood D

    Abstract: The concept of the `surveillance society' has become a central part of the emerging transdisciplinary narrative of surveillance studies, and is now to be found as much in criminology as in many of the other domains upon which it draws. This piece takes on two key problems generated by contemporary use of the term `surveillance society'; those of its historical novelty and its general geographical or cultural generalizability. In this article, I show that the historical development of arguments about surveillance have created particular and changing ideas of the `surveillance society'. However the contemporary period opens up questions of geography and culture. With reference to the comparative case of Japan, I argue both that a contextual understanding of both surveillance and `surveillance society' is crucial. While surveillance is involved with processes of globalization, it is also not necessarily the same `surveillance society' that one sees in different places and at different scales. Surveillance is historically, spatially and culturally located.

      • Journal: European Journal of Criminology
      • Volume: 44
      • Issue: 2
      • Pages: 179-194
      • Publisher: Sage Publications Ltd.
      • Publication type: Article
      • Bibliographic status: Published

      Dr David Murakami Wood
      Associate Professor, Canada Research Chair in Surveillance Studies