Surveillance & Deviance


Just a quick note about something that makes me laugh while it should not, and makes me think, too.

In the US, especially after 2001, security experts and privacy advocates say there has been a surge in the number of video cameras installed around the country. The rise of video surveillance in public areas - particularly shopping areas, banks and petrol stations - is well-documented (and taken to the extreme in movies such as Tony Scott's Enemy of the State).

That is why the FBI-graphic printed here (documenting the gradual increase of bank robberies in the US between 2000 and 2004) is so baffling: does the increase in surveillance in fact produce more bank robberies?

No... but the graph is just one indicator of a much more fundamental truth: public surveillance primarily works to offer most of us the illusion of safety and promotes a false (and docile) sense of security, while not deterring those who wish to deviate from the norm (in any way).

Surveillance (whether its banks or countries that are 'protected') does not prevent crime or terrorism: it produces a submissive, unreflexive public culture.