University of Twente Student Theses


All eyes on you : a Q methodological study on the effects of digital community surveillance techniques within neighbourhoods

Tangermann, I. (2023) All eyes on you : a Q methodological study on the effects of digital community surveillance techniques within neighbourhoods.

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Abstract:Purpose - There is a growing presence of people who participate in digital community surveillance techniques. This study tries to investigate the potential divide that might be a consequence of this usage. By translating Foucault’s Panopticon and moral economies to a neighbourhood setting, this study has two aims. First, the goal is to find out what the potential effects of digital community surveillance techniques are on a small-scale level, being the neighbourhood. Secondly, it aims to find out how neighbours might experience surveillance technologies differently, by identifying groups of people with similar mindsets. Methodology – The study is based on an interview-embedded Q-methodology with 16 participants that do or do not use digital community surveillance practices, and one police officer. The pyramid-shaped Q-sort consisted of 25 statements. During the creation of the Q-sort, participants were asked semi-structured follow-up questions. Findings – First and foremost, the findings indicate the presence of three different groups based on the theoretical pillars. Both safety and the civic and domestic principle were of importance in this study. All participants would share information with neighbours or the police in case of suspicious activities, independently of participating in digital community surveillance practices. People are often unaware of the presence of surveillance techniques, which means they do not know if and what is recorded. However, for most people, privacy concerns do not outweigh the increased feeling of safety. Conclusion – The explorative nature of this study results in contributions to the greater image of digital community surveillance techniques. Attitudes of civilians – either civic or domestic – and toward privacy are important determinants regarding this topic. The online aspect of privacy was not accounted for in this study, and should be included in future studies. All in all, civilians should be aware of the short-term and long-term consequences of digital community surveillance technologies in neighbourhoods.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:70 social sciences in general
Programme:Communication Studies MSc (60713)
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