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The role of technology in shaping CCTV surveillance practices

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In the literature on the operation and effects of closed-circuit television (CCTV), attention has focused on the roles of human actors in surveillance practices. This article argues that, in addition, the role of technical artefacts in shaping surveillance should be taken into account. Through an empirical case study of centralized CCTV, the construction and operation of surveillance from the perspective of the technical, material design of the socio-technical network of video surveillance are explored. The analysis suggests that the application of complex technologies for camera surveillance does not simply augment but also limits the realization of targeted observations. This insight contributes to studies of CCTV and theories of surveillance concerned with analysing the surveillance capacities of contemporary surveillance practices.
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Keywords: camera-enabled observations; closed-circuit television; socio-technical networks; surveillance; technical mediation

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Centre for Studies of Science, Technology and Society, University of Twente, PO Box 217, 7500, AE, Enschede, The Netherlands

Publication date: March 1, 2005

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