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A surveillance studies perspective on protest policing

Ullrich, Peter; Wollinger, Gina Rosa

Zentrum für Antisemitismusforschung

Zentrum Technik und Gesellschaft (ZTG)

The videotaping of all kinds of political demonstrations seems to have become a standard policing procedure in many countries. This paper explores the video surveillance of public protest in Germany, where, in line with the international trend, developments on different levels have changed the situation immensely in recent years. This article firstly gives a short introduction to the subject and the history of video surveilling demonstrations. Secondly it describes the (changing) legal regulations in Germany. The third part considers technical developments, while the fourth part focuses on protestors’ reactions. The relative absence of the social sciences from the field motivates the article’s fifth part, which asks after the theoretical implications of the developments analysed from a surveillance studies perspective and explores questions for future research arising from this. Panopticism, surveillant assemblages and the “culture of control” are considered concerning their possibilities and limitations for understanding the problem of video surveillance of demonstrations.