Everyday deficiencies of police surveillance: a quotidian approach to surveillance studies
Postdoc David Sausdal has recently contributed to the journal Policing and Society with the article 'Everyday deficiencies of police surveillance: a quotidian approach to surveillance studies.'
It has become theoretical orthodoxy to point to and problematize a rise in surveillance. This article contributes to this debate. Following a still marginal yet budding number of studies that focus on the practical, quotidian level of surveillance systems, the article ethnographically examines the daily surveillance work of a number of Danish detectives. What is demonstrated is that whilst the Danish detectives openly acknowledged the need for further surveillance, they simultaneously often refrained from actually carrying out the surveillance practices needed. The article describes why that is. In doing so, it serves as a reminder of how the everyday reality of surveillance work may not necessarily be as effective as much scholarship on the matter may lead us to believe. Furthermore, it shows how these given Danish surveillance actors not only did not follow surveillance policies, they sometimes even actively opposed them. Contrary to the widespread idea that surveillance actors such as the police automatically appreciate new Orwellian opportunities, the Danish detectives commonly saw them as a hindrance to what they truly appreciated about their work. To them, an increase in police surveillance often meant a decrease in job satisfaction.
David Sausdal, Everyday deficiencies of police surveillance: a quotidian approach to surveillance studies, Policing and Society, December 2018.