Surveillance as Communicating Relational Messages: Advancing Understandings of the Surveilled Subject

Alana Saulnier


Theoretical understandings of how and why surveilled subjects perceive and react to surveillance have rarely been engaged in the field of surveillance studies. This research introduces relational models of procedural justice as a framework through which the attitudes and behaviours of surveilled subjects can be more consistently understood in particular (but not singular) surveillance contexts. Qualitative analysis of encounters with surveillance at Pearson International Airport (Toronto, Canada) demonstrates that participants were attentive to relational concerns during these encounters. The findings are positioned in relation to the procedural justice literature to demonstrate the importance of the process of surveillance alongside, or even apart from, its outcomes in terms of understanding and explaining surveilled subjects’ experiences and formation of subjectivities at airports and perhaps more generally.


relational models of procedural justice; surveillance studies; surveilled subject; exposure; surveillance capital

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