Surveillance Research in the Department
Professors Sean Hier and Kevin Walby have been investigating contemporary surveillance practices for the last six years. Their main project investigates city street video surveillance. Since 1981, at least thirty Canadian cities introduced programs designed to monitor city streets. With more cities continuing to introduce monitoring systems, Hier and Walby seek to explain the institutionalization of city street video surveillance in Canada.
The focus of their investigation is threefold. First, they aim to explain how systems are designed, planned, and implemented in cities across the country. They are particularly interested in the diffusion of institutionalized patterns of planning, operations, and governance, and the extent to which they align with provincial privacy protection policy guidelines.
Second, Hier and Walby aim to understand the organizational structure of monitoring programs, including program design supervisory and management structures, monitoring practices/applications, and hiring and training procedures. A central part of this investigation entails ethnographic research with camera operators.
Third, they aim to explain how city-street monitoring increasingly involves public-public systems integration, whereby city-street monitoring programs are linked to existing public-area monitoring programs run by municipal administrations. They are especially interested in growing trends towards public-public systems integration and temporary deployable special events monitoring.
In addition to camera surveillance, Hier and Walby are also interested in theoretical, methodological and conceptual developments in research on surveillance and society. For instance, Hier has published papers challenging emerging orthodoxies in “surveillance studies,” and he has contributed several theoretical critiques of surveillance practices. Walby has also published several papers on surveillance. Among his contributions are papers assessing the utility of institutional ethnography in surveillance research.Visit our Re-Deployable Public Area Video Surveillance website
Surveillance Research Activity
2011-14 “Institutionalizing Streetscape Video Surveillance in Canada.” Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Standard Research Grant Program. (Sean Hier and Kevin Walby)
2011-12 "Public Safety, Private Security, and Temporary Re-deployable Video Surveillance Cameras at Outdoor Public Events in Five Canadian Cities." Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC). (Kevin Walby, Sean Hier and Andre Smith)
2008-11 “Administering CCTV Surveillance Monitoring Programs in Canada.” Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Standard Research Grant Program. (Sean Hier)
2005-8 “Surveillance Practices and Social Problems in Canada.” Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Standard Research Grant Program. (Sean Hier and Josh Greenberg)
Hier, Sean P. and Kevin Walby (2011) “Privacy Pragmatism and Streetscape Video Surveillance in Canada.” International Sociology.
Hier, Sean P. (2010) Panoptic Dreams: Streetscape Video Surveillance in Canada. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press.
Lett, Dan, Sean P. Hier, and Kevin Walby (2010) “CCTV Surveillance and the Civic Conversation: A Study in Public Sociology.” Canadian Journal of Sociology, 35, 3: 437-462.
Greenberg, Josh and Sean P. Hier (2009) “CCTV Surveillance and the Poverty of Media Discourse.” Canadian Journal of Communication, 34, 3: 461-86.
Walby, Kevin. (2009) ‘Surveillance of Male with Male Public Sex in Ontario, 1983-1994’. Hier, Sean and Josh Greenberg (eds). In Surveillance: Power, Problems and Politics. Pp 46-58. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press.
Walby, Kevin and Sean P. Hier. (2009) ‘Securitizing Citizenship: ID Cards, Passports and Border Surveillance in Canada’. Rollings-Magnusson, Sandra (ed). In Anti-Terrorism: Security and Insecurity After 9/11. Pp 125-140. Halifax: Fernwood.
Hier, Sean P., Walby, Kevin, Greenberg, Josh and Dan Lett (2007) “Media, Communication, and the Establishment of Public Camera Surveillance Programs in Canada.” Media, Culture and Society, 29, 5: 727-751.
Walby, Kevin. (2006) ‘Locating Televisual and Non-Televisual Textual Sequences with Institutional Ethnography: a Study of Campus and Apartment CCTV Security Work’. Culture and Organization, 13/2: 153-168.
Hier, Sean P., Kevin Walby and Joshua Greenberg. (2006) ‘Supplementing the Panoptic Paradigm: Surveillance, Moral Governance, and CCTV’. Lyon, David (ed). In Theorizing Surveillance: The Panopticon and Beyond. Pp 230-244. Cullompton: Willan.
Walby, Kevin. (2005) ‘Institutional Ethnography and Surveillance Studies: An Outline for Inquiry’. Surveillance and Society, 3/2-3: 158-172.
Hier, Sean P. (2004) “Risky Spaces and Dangerous Spaces: Urban Surveillance, Social Disorder and CCTV.” Social and Legal Studies, 13, 4: 541-554.
Hier, Sean P. (2003) “Probing the Surveillant Assemblage: On the Dialectics of Surveillance Practices as Processes of Social Control.” Surveillance and Society, 1, 3: 399-411.