Policy Legitimacy, Rhetorical Politics, and the Evaluation of City-Street Video Surveillance Monitoring Programs in Canada

By Lett, Dan; Hier, Sean et al. | Canadian Review of Sociology, November 2012 | Go to article overview

Policy Legitimacy, Rhetorical Politics, and the Evaluation of City-Street Video Surveillance Monitoring Programs in Canada


Lett, Dan, Hier, Sean, Walby, Kevin, Canadian Review of Sociology


INTRODUCTION

IN AN IMPORTANT discussion of evaluation research pertaining to contemporary surveillance technologies, Haggerty (2009) argues that managerialism as a governing mentality has contributed to the rise of an evidence-rather than ethics-based paradigm for evaluating and justifying a range of surveillance systems. He allegorizes evaluation research as an "unregulated knife fight" where "rules do not apply" and claims about objectivity function as an ideological gloss to mask political interests. For Haggerty, debates about the extent to which surveillance systems "work" hinge more on the ways in which adversaries debate one another on methodological grounds than they do on objective scientific evidence or the ethics of conducting public surveillance.

Haggerty's arguments about the rhetorical politics of evaluation research are a welcome addition to the literature on surveillance, security practices, and crime control. His primarily theoretical arguments, however, can be supplemented and refined through empirical investigation. To this end, we use Haggerty's arguments as an entry point to examine the role of rhetorical politics (1) in achieving and maintaining policy legitimacy in one surveillance domain: city-street video surveillance in the province of Ontario, Canada. We explain how video surveillance systems in Ontario are partially legitimized through a set of rhetorical policy gestures that appear to comply with principles institutionalized in the Ontario Information and Privacy Commissioner (IPC)'s privacy protection policy framework on public-area video surveillance. Examining the role of rhetorical politics in Ontario's video surveillance security culture is important because the existing literature on camera evaluation--a literature whose aim is to improve techniques of evaluation by refining scientific measures (see Burns-Howell and Pascoe 2004; Ratcliffe and Taniguchi 2008; Ratcliffe et al. 2009; Welsh and Farrington 2004)--has not sufficiently explained how rhetorical framing is used to legitimate evaluation findings.

This article has three sections. In the first section, we examine the literature on evidence-based policy evaluation. We also describe Ontario's city-street monitoring evaluation practices in the context of the Ontario IPC's privacy protection policy framework on public-area video surveillance. Following a brief note regarding method, we report on video surveillance program evaluations in four cities, granting special attention to the rhetorical use of evaluation findings in the context of municipal politics and debates. We demonstrate how the rhetorical politics of video surveillance evaluation research strives for legitimacy by appearing to adhere to the IPC's best practices guidelines--guidelines that are formulated to minimize rhetoric in system design and deployment. (2) We also discuss the issue of evaluation atrophy, whereby stakeholders either reduce their efforts to conduct evaluations or cease altogether when external and internal pressures to maintain legitimacy are absent. In the final section, we identify four scenarios for academics, system administrators, and privacy protection advocates to improve the design of evaluation protocols and monitoring programs.

POLICY LEGITIMACY AND CITY-STREET VIDEO SURVEILLANCE

A sizable body of scientific evidence on the crime-reduction potential of public video surveillance indicates that monitoring systems are able to realize their stated objectives in only a small number of physical locations (e.g., parking areas) and under specific conditions (e.g., camera positioning, effective communication channels among law enforcement agencies). There is evidence that other measures such as street lighting and security guards are more effective than video surveillance in preventing property and violent crime (Welsh and Farrington 2009). Another set of studies finds that city-street video surveillance is not very effective in reducing crime in city centers (Gill 2003; Gill and Spriggs 2005; Welsh and Farrington 2004, 2005, 2009). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Policy Legitimacy, Rhetorical Politics, and the Evaluation of City-Street Video Surveillance Monitoring Programs in Canada
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.