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Author:Daniel Miller (University College London (UCL))
Paper long abstract:
Most of the discussion around the balance between care and surveillance during the response to Covid-19 has been focused on the rise of contract tracing through smartphones. The varied governmental responses and even more varied degrees of concern around compliance and privacy. All of which has highlighted a finding from the ASSA project (Anthropology of Smartphones and Smart Ageing) about how smartphones have developed the possibilities of both care and surveillance. What has been less discussed and was still more prominent within the ASSA ethnographies is the way ordinary people took up the mantle of surveillance and felt responsible as citizens for ensuring the compliance of the public with government strictures. The events provided many insights into how public normativity is created and maintained through practices such as sharing memes, but also shaming and upbraiding each other. There is state surveillance and surveillance capitalism, but what of surveillance from below? And what does this tell us about contemporary citizenship?
Care, patronage and control