The STS & Surveillance Repository is maintained by an informal group of researchers who have been working on surveillance from the perspective of Science and Technology Studies (STS). With this blog we  mean to draw together resources for studying surveillance with a particular focus on understanding the complex interactions between science, technology and society. It was originally conceived by Francisca Grommé and Norma Möllers, whose paths crossed several times over the past years while they were looking for ways of coming to terms with their PhD research.

In brief, STS is a social science discipline (or rather, a range of disciplines) committed to a non-determinist understanding of science, technology and society: devices and machines affect social life but this is not a unidirectional process. Moreover, it is a discipline that is committed to empirically substantiating claims about science, technology and society by conducting interviews, ethnographic observations, document analysis and digital data analysis. 

Our common interest is surveillance, loosely defined as the collection of data about people and objects with the purpose of somehow influencing them. Surveillance can be low-tech and everyday. For instance, parents watch over their children. But it can also be high-tech and performed by state institutions; think of biometric passports. From these examples it also follows that both care and control can be motivations for surveillance and that surveillance can be enabling as well as constraining. 

With the introduction of ever more technological means for private and state surveillance, it becomes relevant to understand how these technologies affect social life. What motivates and affects the design of a 'smart' CCTV system in the laboratory? How is a technology for analysing aggression integrated with existing routines for determining suspicion in a police station? STS has a long track record in developing the conceptual tools for answering such questions. In turn, surveillance is a valuable addition to the empirical repertoire of STS; it is a debate that this discipline simply cannot afford to miss.

We are always happy about people who want to join the conversation, and contribute to bring surveillance on the table of current STS debates and vice versa. 

Who's blogging?

Francisca Grommé
University of Amsterdam
f.gromme [at] uva [dot] nl

Norma Möllers 
University of Potsdam
norma.moellers [at] uni-potsdam [dot] de

Matthias Leese 
IZEW Tübingen
matthias.leese [at] izew.uni-tuebingen [dot] de

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