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Digitizing surveillance: Categorization, space, inequality

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Stephen Graham, Dr David Murakami Wood



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by Sage , 2003.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


In this article, we seek to add to current debates about surveillance and society by critically exploring the social implications of a new and emerging raft of surveillance practices: those that specifically surround digital techniques and technologies. The article has four parts. In the first, we outline the nature of digital surveillance and consider how it differs from other forms of surveillance. The second part of the article explores the interconnections between digital techniques and the changing political economies of cities and urban societies. Here we explore the essential ambivalence of digital surveillance within the context of wider trends towards privatization, liberalization and social polarization. The third part provides some insights into particular aspects of digital surveillance through three examples: algorithmic video surveillance (in which closed circuit television systems are linked to software for the recognition of movement or identity); the increasingly prevalent practices of digital prioritization in transport and communications; and the medical surveillance of populations, wherein databases are created for increasingly mixed state and commercial medical purposes. Following this, in part four, we reflect on the policy and research implications raised by the spread of digital surveillance.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Graham S, Wood D

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Critical Social Policy

Year: 2003

Volume: 23

Issue: 2

Pages: 227-248

Print publication date: 01/05/2003

Date deposited: 17/03/2010

ISSN (print): 0261-0183

ISSN (electronic): 1461-703X

Publisher: Sage


DOI: 10.1177/0261018303023002006


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