Police and the Post-9/11 Surveillance Surge: “Technological Dramas” in “the Bureaucratic Field”

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Brendan Innis McQuade


In the last decade, the United States has invested considerable resources into an expanded intelligence apparatus that extends from the hyper-secretive federal intelligence community down to the more mundane world of municipal police. This paper investigates the effects of the post-9/11 surveillance surge on state and local policing. It presents original research on interagency intelligence centers New York and New Jersey and deploys Pfaffenberger’s “technological drama” as a process animating the neoliberal constitution of what Bourdieu calls the “bureaucratic field.” Despite seemingly dramatic changes, there exists powerful continuity in the profession of policing. Before or after Snowden, the day-to-day reality of criminal intelligence remains shaped by the immediate demands of investigations and the small politics of interagency rivalries, insulating policing from dramatic reforms and swift change. What reformers see as dysfunction is better understood as a technological drama in the bureaucratic field that paradoxically provides a degree of autonomy and slows the pace of change.  This paper builds on and contributes to the tendency within surveillance studies that emphasizes the ways in which human agents and organizational cultures mediate surveillance.

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How to Cite
MCQUADE, Brendan Innis. Police and the Post-9/11 Surveillance Surge: “Technological Dramas” in “the Bureaucratic Field”. Surveillance & Society, [S.l.], v. 14, n. 1, p. 1-19, may 2016. ISSN 1477-7487. Available at: <https://ojs.library.queensu.ca/index.php/surveillance-and-society/article/view/post-snowden-police>. Date accessed: 20 oct. 2017.
Surveillance, Intelligence, Fusion Centers, Intelligence-Led Policing, CompStat,