‘The footage is decisive’: Applying the thinking of Marshall McLuhan to CCTV and police misconduct

Richard William Evans

Abstract


This article adapts Marshall McLuhan’s writings on mass media to ubiquitous and universal surveillance systems, looking at surveillance as media. The term ‘broadcast media’ is derived from an agricultural metaphor, a technique of planting. I argue that CCTV systems are an inversion of broadcasting: ‘harvest media’. Drawing on three case studies in which CCTV has been relevant to allegations of police misconduct, I explore how harvest media impacts on cultural and legal perceptions of evidence, truth and deniability.


Keywords


Surveillance; CCTV; Marshall Mcluhan; Media theory; Policing; Police misconduct

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