Surveillance on/off: Examining home surveillance systems from the user's perspective

Main Article Content

Liisa A Mäkinen

Abstract

Surveillance equipment, especially cameras and access control devices, are increasingly introduced into homes and other private dwellings. Residents use the equipment in their daily lives in places where they are both operators and targets of these systems. Thus far, the concrete practices of these systems use or the users’ feelings towards them have not been investigated. This article sets out to examine the surveillance produced with home surveillance systems and the meanings and implications of that surveillance to the resident.

The data consist of 13 interviews conducted in Finland with people who have installed surveillance systems in their homes. Through qualitative content analysis of the interviews, this article argues that five types of surveillance is produced with these systems. The first two types are comparable to traditional understanding of surveillance motivated by control and care. Besides these two, the equipment is used for recreational and communicational surveillance which are motivated by more playful purposes. The fifth type of surveillance analyzed here is ‘sincere’ surveillance. Domestic surveillance is sincere in the sense that the residents consider it, along with their motives for conducting it, innocent. The users as overseers wish to separate themselves from voyeurs.

This article offers important insight into the everyday life practices of surveillance and expands our previous understanding of domestic surveillance. The surveillance produced with home surveillance systems needs to be understood more broadly than in mere control-care-setting. The playful and entertaining usages of the systems, however, do not remove the ambiguities of domestic surveillance. 

Article Details

How to Cite
MÄKINEN, Liisa A. Surveillance on/off: Examining home surveillance systems from the user's perspective. Surveillance & Society, [S.l.], v. 14, n. 1, p. 59-77, may 2016. ISSN 1477-7487. Available at: <https://ojs.library.queensu.ca/index.php/surveillance-and-society/article/view/onoff>. Date accessed: 19 aug. 2017.
Keywords
Domestic surveillance; Home; Webcams
Section
Articles

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