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Ludic surveillance

Examining mundane surveillance practices at the interface of control and play

Mäkinen Liisa A.

Publications of the Faculty of Social Sciences 42 (2017) Social and Public Policy This doctoral thesis investigates private surveillance practices in everyday life, ranging from control-related monitoring to watching for familial care, for both practical and playful purposes. The focus is on individual camera surveillance practices in private and semi-private places such as homes and recreational surroundings. The work is located in the field of Surveillance Studies. The research builds on the view that surveillance in its current form cannot be conceptualized merely in the framework of control, and recognizes that play can be offered as an alternative. Consequently, the objective is to examine how private surveillance practices can be placed in between, and beyond, frames of control and play. Furthermore, the aim is to examine how surveillance traditionally understood as a control-related activity can be connected to game-like and playful practices on a theoretical level. The study includes four research articles and a summary article. The main body of the empirical data is comprised of qualitative interviews (N:23) collected in Finland with users of private surveillance equipment. Two articles build on interview data, one is a case study (on an online surveillance application) and one is grounded on a theoretical analysis of playful traits in surveillance practices. The main result from the empirical data is that while private surveillance practices connect to forms of control-related monitoring and playful watching practices, uses are not limited to either but combine and add to them. A particularly interesting combination of the two is manifested in gamified surveillance, where surveillants might operate playfully, but surveillance is still authoritative. Control and play can indeed happen simultaneously. Five types of surveillance produced with domestic surveillance systems are recognized: controlling, caring, recreational, communicational and sincere. Furthermore, online cameras are analysed as practical devices which enable a convenient way to monitoring places and property which are important to the users. The key result on the theoretical level is the metaphorical model of surveillance analysis presented in two of the articles. This research introduces five novel metaphors for future surveillance analysis: 1) cat-and-mouse, 2) hide-and-seek, 3) labyrinth, 4) sleight-of-hand, and 5) poker. The metaphorical approach to surveillance practices proposes that control-related surveillance can be analysed from a ludic perspective. This study furthers both empirical and theoretical understanding of private surveillance practices and surveillance taking place at the interfaces of control and play. The underlying argument is that, in addition to control and play, convenience should be considered a framework for analysing private surveillance practices. Consequently, the positions of surveillance subjects should also be rethought.


21 €

  • Julkaisija Valtiotieteellinen tiedekunta (Helsingin yliopisto)
    Julkaisuvuosi 2017
    Sivumäärä 158
    Kieli Englanti
    Sarjat Valtiotieteellisen tiedekunnan julkaisuja
    Ulkoasu B5,pehmeäkantinen
    ISBN 9789515125897
    ISSN 2343-273X