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SO258-15 Surveillance and Security:Race, Class and Gender

Undergraduate Level 2
Module leader
Nisha Kapoor
Credit value
Module duration
10 weeks
50% coursework, 50% exam
Study location
University of Warwick main campus, Coventry
Introductory description

This module will critically explore the idea of surveillance and its symbiotic relationship with the idea of security. In other words, we will consider why surveillance is framed and understood as necessary for security and how discourses of security help to perpetuate cultures of surveillance. So through the course we will explore the multiple forms and operations of surveillance in contemporary society, examine the historical roots of and motivations for surveillance, how power operates through surveillance practices and the ways in which these practices create, reinforce and augment social structures of oppression. We will also consider the ways in which oppressed groups have been at the forefront of making sense of surveillance strategies, organizing against them whilst also subverting the use of surveillance media technologies to ‘police the police’.

Module aims

The intensification of surveillance in recent years has led to a proliferation of popular, political and intellectual discussion, where the reach and purpose of surveillance, its technological and material forms, its relationship to capitalism, and its role as a normalised state/ social disciplinary device have all been debated. In this module we will challenge some of these discussions and move way from normative conceptualisations of surveillance and security which tend to frame such trends as being relatively recent, solely centred in technological developments, and homogenous in their implications. Rather, this course will employ feminist, critical race, and postcolonial theory and perspectives to examine the ways in which race, gender and class thinking inform how surveillance is organized and deployed, as well as underlie the legitimation of surveillance practices.

The course aims to be dynamic and very much aimed at promoting interactive and collaborative learning. To help achieve this, the class will not be taught in straight lecture/seminar format but taught through workshop style. This will involve a range of different activities including group tasks and discussion, group and individual presentations, analysis of reports, short films and media materials interjected with short lectures from me.

Outline syllabus

This is an indicative module outline only to give an indication of the sort of topics that may be covered. Actual sessions held may differ.

Week 1: Histories of Surveillance; Frames of Classification
Week 2: Surveillance Capitalism: Part I
Week 3: Surveillance Capitalism: Part II
Week 4: (Inter)National Security: War on Terror
Week 5: National Security: Surveillance, Gender, Borders
Week 6: Reading Week
Week 7: Cultures of Surveillance
Week 8: Counter-Surveillance, Resistance and Social Justice
Week 9: Critical Feminism on Security and Securitisation
Week 10: Summary workshop/ Time for assessment discussion

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students should be able to:

  • On completion of the module students will:Have developed knowledge and understanding of the social and historical constructions of surveillance practices, and their racialized, gendered and classed dimensions. Be able to identify, evaluate and critically analyse appropriate sociological theories relating to the study of surveillance and security including the purposes, practices and technologies of surveillance, and its race, gender and class dimensions.Be able to explain and critically engage in political and intellectual debates on surveillance, security and securitisation.Be able to organise and present oral arguments, carry out a formal presentation and facilitate classroom discussion in seminars. Be able to organise and present written information clearly and coherently through their exam writing. Develop their research and organisational skills by using library e-journal and other on-line resources.
Indicative reading list

Browne, S. (2015) Dark matters: On the surveillance of blackness. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
Kundnani, A. and D. Kumar, (2015), ‘Race, Surveillance and Empire’, International Socialist Review, Issue 96, Spring 2015.
Mamdani, M. (2012) Define and Rule: Native as Political Identity, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Stoler, A. L. (2010) Carnal Knowledge and Imperial Power. Race and the Intimate in Colonial Rule, University of California Press.
Smith, A. (2015) "Not Seeing: State Surveillance, Settler Colonialism, and Gender Violence." In R.
Noble, S. U. (2018) Algorithims of Oppression. How Search Engines Reinforce Racism, New York, NY: NYU Press.
Puar, J. K. (2007) Terrorist assemblages: Homonationalism in queer times. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
Puar, J. & Rai, A. S. (2002) ‘Monster, Terrorist, Fag: The War on Terrorism and the Production
of Docile Patriots’, Social Text, 20(3), 117-148.
Dubrofsky, R. E., & Magnet, S. A. (eds.) (2015) Feminist surveillance studies, Durham NC: Duke University Press.
Kundnani, A. (2014) The Muslims are Coming, London: Verso.
Morsi, Y., (2017) Radical Skin, Moderate Masks, London: Rowman and Littlefield.
Kapoor, N. (2018) Deport Deprive Extradite: 21st Century State Extremism, London: Verso.
Sian, K. (2017) Countering racism in counter-terrorism and surveillance discourse, Palgrave Communications (3) doi:10.1057/s41599-017-0010-7
Sharma, S. & J. Nijjar (2018) ‘The racialized surveillant assemblage: Islam and the fear of terrorism’, Popular Communication. The International Journal of Media and Culture, 16(1), 72-85.

View reading list on Talis Aspire

Subject specific skills

To demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the development of the social and historical constructions of surveillance practices, and their racialized, gendered and classed dimensions.

To be able to apply theoretical concepts and ideas to empirical case studies and different forms of security and surveillance.

To demonstrate knowledge and understanding of resistance practices against surveillance technologies and governmentalities as well as knowledge of critical theoretical perspectives on security.

To demonstrate critical analytical skills for interrogating and evaluating key concepts, theories and empirical research relating to security and surveillance techniques and technologies.

To engage with sociological and criminological texts on surveillance and security through the use of research-led learning and empirical data collection.

Evaluate strengths and limitations in theoretical approaches to surveillance and security and its raced, gendered and classed dimensions

Transferable skills

Undertake independent, desk-based research skills.

Gather appropriate library and web-based resources that are appropriate for UG level 5.

Make theoretical, methodological and empirical evaluations and use the available evidence to construct and synthesise an argument in oral and written form.

Demonstrate effective time management skills.

Work effectively both independently and as part of a team.

Manage complex information and demonstrate critical analytical skills.

Develop oral presentation skills synthesising academic material in an effective manner.

Study time

Type Required
Seminars 9 sessions of 2 hours (12%)
Private study 132 hours (88%)
Total 150 hours
Private study description

Reading and other preparation for workshops. Preparation and writing of formative work Preparation and writing of summative work


No further costs have been identified for this module.

You do not need to pass all assessment components to pass the module.

Students can register for this module without taking any assessment.

Assessment group C
Weighting Study time
Presentation 50%

15 minute presentation

Online Examination 50%

The written examination for this module will be a seen paper. The exam questions and requirements will be circulated 21 days prior to the examination. Students can then begin to prepare for the examination but will not be allowed to contact the module convenor for advice or support once the questions have been circulated.

Feedback on assessment

Students will be given oral and written feedback on their summative presentations and some feedback on their exam scripts. \r\n\r\n They will also receive feedback from tutors and from peers during breakout discussions in the workshops on formative work that will be required for each reading every week.\r\n

Past exam papers for SO258


This module is Core optional for:

  • Year 3 of ULAA-ML33 Undergraduate Law and Sociology

This module is Optional for:

  • USOA-L301 BA in Sociology
    • Year 2 of L301 Sociology
    • Year 2 of L301 Sociology
    • Year 2 of L301 Sociology
  • Year 2 of USOA-L314 Undergraduate Sociology and Criminology

This module is Option list A for:

  • ULAA-ML34 BA in Law and Sociology (Qualifying Degree)
    • Year 3 of ML34 Law and Sociology (Qualifying Degree)
    • Year 4 of ML34 Law and Sociology (Qualifying Degree)
  • Year 4 of ULAA-ML33 Undergraduate Law and Sociology

This module is Option list D for:

  • Year 2 of UHIA-VL13 Undergraduate History and Sociology