SSC Seminar Series: Lucas Melgaço

Lucas Melgaço, PhD
Visiting post-doctoral fellow, SSC

Students under control: rationalization of educational spaces through surveillance practices

Wednesday, February 8
12:30pm to 2:00pm
Location: Mac-Corry Room D411, Queen's University

Several educational institutions, from kindergartens to universities and from different geographical contexts, are experiencing an increase in surveillance practices. CCTV cameras, ID cards, integrated databases, email data collection, internet tracking, audits and performance evaluations of faculty and departments are becoming more common in educational spaces. These spaces are facing a process of rationalization since they are being transformed to provide increased efficiency, calculability, predictability and control. While surveillance in schools has benefits, such as helping to improve learning and promoting the security of children and faculty, it raises some concerns with excessive attention to rationalization. These concerns point at the restraint of individual liberties, the lack of trust in students, teachers and staff and the creation of oppressive and segregated spaces. The excess of rationalization can lead to the emergence of irrationalities. Moreover, the dialectical approach suggests that rationalization can also result in the creation of counter-rationalities: for instance, students can use cellphone cameras to watch the watchers in a process of counter-surveillance. Using examples gathered mainly from the Queen’s University at Kingston, Ontario, Canada, and comparing them to a few Brazilian illustrations, this paper aims to discuss some of the consequences of electronic surveillance in educational everyday life.

Everyone welcome!