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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
25% coursework, 75% exam
Study location
University of Warwick main campus, Coventry
Introductory description

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 engage with some of these discussions and consider the growth of surveillance in relation to the growth of the data society. We will 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. 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.

Module aims

The module aims to engage students in debates relating to the role and uses of surveillance in the burgeoning data society. In particular we will consider the role of surveillance technologies for data governance, data capitalism as well as theorise surveillance cultures within contemporary social mediated life.
It aims to enhance students understandings of the symbiotic relationship between surveillance and security.
It aims to enhance students understandings of the digital data society and economy.

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: Introduction/ Surveillance, Security and Data Societies
Week 2: Surveillance, Data and Capitalism Part 1
Week 3: Surveillance, Data and Capitalism Part 2
Week 4: Surveillance, Security and Population Governance Part 1
Week 5: Surveillance, Security and Population Governance Part 2
Week 6: Reading Week
Week 7: Cultures of Surveillance
Week 8: Cultures of Surveillance
Week 9: Counter-Surveillance, Protest and Resistance
Week 10: Summary workshop/ Time for assessment discussion

Learning outcomes

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

  • 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

Data politics: worlds, subjects, rights
Book edited by Didier Bigo; Engin F. Isin; Evelyn Sharon Ruppert 2019

Feminist surveillance studies
Book by Rachel E. Dubrofsky; Shoshana Magnet 2015

Theorizing surveillance: the panopticon and beyond
Book edited by David Lyon 2006; ©2006

The surveillant assemblage in British Journal of Sociology
Article by Kevin D. Haggerty, Richard V. Ericson 2000-12-1

Surveillance in TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly
Article by T. Beauchamp 2014

Race After Technology: Abolitionist Tools for the New Jim Code
Book by RUHA. BENJAMIN 2019

The age of surveillance capitalism: the fight for a human future at the new frontier of power
Book by Shoshana Zuboff January 2019

Gendering Surveillance Studies: The Empirical and Normative Promise of Feminist Methodology in Surveillance & Society
Article by Yasmeen Abu-Laban 2015

View reading list on Talis Aspire


Though the module centres a Sociological focus, it will cover literature and debates pertinent to students interested in studying politics, governance and political economy.


The module will draw on empirical examples and case studies from global contexts, thus broadening students horizons and reflecting the diversity of the student body in the classroom. It will also draw on a range of theoretical and scholarly texts from academics writing from and about a number of different national contexts.

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 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 theoretical texts on surveillance and security.

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
Lectures 9 sessions of 1 hour (4%)
Seminars 9 sessions of 1 hour (4%)
Private study 132 hours (58%)
Assessment 78 hours (34%)
Total 228 hours
Private study description

Students are expected to prepare for seminars each week by reading the core set reading listed in the module reading list and available via the module moodle site. In addition, time will be spent preparing for the two module assessments- an individual recorded presentation and end of year exam.


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 D2
Weighting Study time
Individual Recorded Presentation 25% 20 hours

Students will be asked to record a 10 minute presentation addressing a topic related to the module. Students can select the topic from a list of questions given by the module convenor or choose a topic of their own in consultation with, and following approval from, the module convenor.

Surveillance and Security: Race, Gender, Class. Written examination with seen paper 75% 58 hours

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. Students will not be able to take written material or notes into the exam.

  • Online examination: No Answerbook required
Feedback on assessment

Written feedback will be given to students on their presentations. An exam feedback sheet will be used to deliver feedback on exam questions.

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 5 of ULAA-ML35 BA in Law and Sociology (Qualifying Degree) (with Intercalated year)
  • 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
  • Year 2 of UHIA-VL15 Undergraduate History and Sociology (with a term in Venice)