M.A. in Surveillance Studies at City University

As part of its modernisation, criminology continues to establish a variety of exciting research specialisms. Surveillance studies is one such field stealthily positioning itself at the very centre of the discipline. The insatiable appetite of large bureaucratic organisations (and curious individuals) for personal information, has helped cultivate the burgeoning 'surveillance society'. This is a cultural order where our 'digital trail' - routinely picked up by CCTV cameras, web browser cookies, mobile phone communications, credit and loyalty card transactions etc. - has become a valuable (and marketable) commodity and a more trustworthy source, than the individual to whom the data relates. This information is then ordered and sorted according to particular categories in large, networked databases, with the resulting decisions directly impacting upon our life chances and mobility. Capturing, classifying and shaping behaviour has become the key objective of surveillance systems, but this is not necessarily a unilateral Orwellian process administered by state and commerce: we are all involved in producing and consuming the growing surveillance culture. The success of Channel 4's Big Brother and the Facebook phenomenon are ample testament to this.

For these reasons, surveillance has become a central concept in scholarly understandings of contemporary social relations and organisational processes. Emerging in a context of ubiquitous electronic monitoring, surveillance studies is a globally networked cross-disciplinary initiative which seeks to critically investigate and better understand how and why personal details are routinely collected, stored, checked, traded and processed and what the implications are for individuals. A number of important social issues are at stake from such developments - trust, privacy, equality, citizenship, democracy, power and governance are only some of the many values creaking and metamorphosing under the transformational weight of the surveillance society.

In a world of pervasive surveillance, where our everyday lives are touched and ordered by largely invisible gazes and processes, never has there been a better time to dispel some deeply ingrained myths about this phenomenon and explore the truths behind its exponential thrust into the organisational heart of 'democratic' governance. As such, City University London now offers the world's first MA degree in Surveillance Studies, to provide a unique and stimulating platform for scholarly discussion and multi-agency collaboration. Beginning in September 2009 and taught by leading experts in the field, this globally-orientated programme explores topics relating to surveillance growth, theory, regulation, ethics and futures. It is ideally suited for those wishing to engage with cutting edge theoretical developments, critical research issues and key policy trends. The overall objective of the MA is to equip participants with the theoretical tools required to analytically comprehend the diverse ways in which surveillance is produced, operationalised and experienced in everyday life.

Gavin John Douglas Smith is an established authority in the field of surveillance and leads the new MA in Surveillance Studies at City University London. To find out more about the course either visit:

www.city.ac.uk/sociology/surveillance or email: socscipg@city.ac.uk

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