The Articulation of Identity in UK discourses of surveillance
POSTnote: Computer Crime
Visualisation and Other Methods of Expression
I recently finished working as a Research Fellow on the Visualisation and Other methods of Expression project at Cranfield University. 'VOME' was an EPSRC, ESRC and Technology Strategy board funded project into the ways people understand and think about online privacy and consent issues, and alternate ways of conveying useful information about this area to people.
On this project I've primarily been involved in researching the politics of online privacy, social science research methodology, fieldwork, and trialling a number of communications methods. Recently, i've been involved in producing a card game to explore issues of privacy and consent, and a participatory video project with young people. The issues I've been exploring have included the methodological and theoretical work needed to bridge different disciplines - in our case from sociology, through political science, to computer science, the role of the police in e-safety education, government intervention in online identity management, and the use of games in education.
During this project I've had the pleasure to work with people from Royal Holloway and Salford Universities, Sunderland City Council, Consult Hyperion, Hudson's youth project, i to i consulting, and a range of other organisations.
A place which is designed so as to be less likely to suffer terrorist attack, or which can better protect people and quickly recover in the event of an attack can be described as a resilient place. The REDESIGN project seeks to ensure that best practice in the design of effective and acceptable resilient public places can be more widely achieved through the structured and considered integration of counter-terror measures into the decision-making processes of key stakeholders involved with the planning, design, construction, operation and management of public places and transport systems. In doing so, it will address key questions about the public acceptability of counter terror measures, and the potential for public involvement in these measures.
The project focused on busy shopping areas and light rail systems, but also aims to develop findings that are transferable to other types of public place.
The specific objectives were to:
1. Develop a multi-disciplinary methodology to help understand the competing functionalities (social, economic, aesthetic, managerial) involved in the production and maintenance of resilient places;
2. Develop a decision support framework to assist key stakeholders in the design of resilient places;
3. Conduct specific studies to evaluate the design methodology and decision support framework in busy shopping areas and for light rail systems;
4. Establish a research ‘road map’ for exploring emerging issues and any identified gaps in knowledge.
Some spin-off work from the Re-Design project is still ongoing at the University of Birmingham.
the PhD thesis:
The Articulation of Identity in Discourses of Surveillance in the United Kingdom
This thesis enacts a discursive approach to surveillance in the UK, revealing implications for surveillance theory, governmentality theory, and for political and social identity theories. It demonstrates the importance of a discursive approach to surveillance, as an expansion of assemblage models of surveillance. It finds convergence between government, governance, finance and media discourses, sufficient to conceive of these as forming a shared governmental discourse of surveillance. Governmental, financial and media discourses tend to privilege the assumption that surveillance systems are effective and accurate. This ideological function elides the contingent nature of surveillant practices, presenting them as non-political technological functions. Governmentality accounts of surveillance are supplemented by an expanded understanding of identity as a contested concept, or floating signifier, articulated in particular ways in governmental discourses. The discourse theory informed analysis in this thesis points to a distinct articulation of identity – the governmental surveillant identity – a political attempt to fix the meaning of identity, and construct a surveillance-permeable form that draws upon the privileging of technological truth over human truth. Identity is articulated across many of the five discourses studied as socially vulnerable. The core articulation of the problem of governance is that identity is problematised; unreliable for the proper functioning of governance in society. Because identity is vulnerable and because identity’s ontological nature makes it possible, identity must be checked and secured.
This is actually downloadable and readable from Nottingham's eThesis repository
Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology - ESRC Research Fellowship
For three months in 2006 I was an ESRC funded research fellow at the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology. POST is an office of both Houses of Parliament, charged with providing independent and balanced analysis of public policy issues that have a basis in science and technology. I wrote the report on computer crime.