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      The Public Domain: Surveillance in Everyday Life

      Surveillance & Society
      Queen's University Library

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          Abstract

          People create profiles on social network sites and Twitter accounts against the background of an audience. This paper argues that closely examining content created by others and looking at one’s own content through other people’s eyes, a common part of social media use, should be framed as social surveillance. While social surveillance is distinguished from traditional surveillance along three axes (power, hierarchy, and reciprocity), its effects and behavior modification is common to traditional surveillance. Drawing on ethnographic studies of United States populations, I look at social surveillance, how it is practiced, and its impact on people who engage in it. I use Foucault’s concept of capillaries of power to demonstrate that social surveillance assumes the power differentials evident in everyday interactions rather than the hierarchical power relationships assumed in much of the surveillance literature. Social media involves a collapse of social contexts and social roles, complicating boundary work but facilitating social surveillance. Individuals strategically reveal, disclose and conceal personal information to create connections with others and tend social boundaries. These processes are normal parts of day-to-day life in communities that are highly connected through social media.

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          Author and article information

          Journal
          Surveillance & Society
          SS
          Queen's University Library
          1477-7487
          June 20 2012
          June 20 2012
          : 9
          : 4
          : 378-393
          Article
          10.24908/ss.v9i4.4342
          937669da-98c9-43d4-9ff0-8f5fa52ecf57
          © 2012
          History

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