About SSN


Surveillance Studies Network (SSN) is a registered charitable company dedicated to the study of surveillance in all its forms, and the free distribution of scholarly information.

We are registered in the UK, but welcome members and supporters from all over the world. We own and run the journal Surveillance and Society and also act as a clearing house for social science and policy research and consultancy about surveillance.

The History of the Surveillance and Society Biannual Conference

The origins of this conference  are tied up with the genesis of  the journal Surveillance & Society. In July 1996 the first academic conference to explore the social and political significance of CCTV, “CCTV, Surveillance and Social Control”  was organised By Clive Norris and Jade Moran at the University of Hull.  Some of the core participants of this conference were subsequently funded by the UKs Economic and Social Research Council to run an interdisciplinary seminar series entitled ‘Surveillance and Society’.  The series was convened by Clive Norris during 1998 and 2000, and it set out to examine the implications of the range of surveillance new technologies that were being deployed in an increasing number of administrative, commercial and legal contexts.  The final event of the seminar series was a conference, held in June 2000, at the University of Hull, which concluded with a discussion as to how best we could continue to collaborate and explore the expanding field of surveillance.   Present at that discussion were Kirstie Ball,  Jason Ditton, Steven Graham,  David Lyon, Clive Norris and  David Wood. It was decided that another conference would be held focusing more closely on CCTV, but at the same time endeavouring to widen the angle to European and global developments, and also to establish an academic journal of surveillance studies. It was also decided that the journal should be a free, online, open access journal so that it could have the broadest reach and not be confined to the shelves of prosperous university libraries.

So, on the basis of a handshake at the end of the discussion, the Journal Surveillance and Society and the Biannual conference were born.  The synergy between the two projects was obvious: the networks built up in the seminar series formed the basis for the journal, which then extended these networks, and the conference has provided the first airing for many papers that have subsequently appeared in the journal.  That  Surveillance and Society has progressed from an embryonic idea into reality has been largely due to the technical and editorial abilities of David Wood  who designed the original web site, and over the subsequent years, has expertly managed the journal and continually refined its technical capacities.

However, a journal established on the basis of a handshake and the promise of free access to a global community is a difficult project to sustain.  First, it had no legal basis and second, it had no money. These two problems were solved by creating the Surveillance Studies Network (SSN), a charitable company whose primary purpose is to own and publish the Journal and promote the study and critical understanding of surveillance.  The financial base was also solved by the  creation of the SSN, which enabled the journal to be supported by membership and associated subscriptions.  Under the stewardship of  Kirstie Ball, the SSN has developed a financial plan to ensure the long term financial viability of the journal.  The conference is at the heart of the plan; not only does it provide a focus for the collection of membership fees but any surplus accumulated is set aside to support the Journal.  This is particularly important because although we have been very fortunate  in attracting a prestigious Canadian Social Science and Humanities Research Council Award for Scholarly Journals, which provides three years of core funding to support Surveillance and Society.  This grant will run out in 2015 and we have planned to set aside sufficient funding to continue publishing and developing the journal for the next few years.

The  Conferences

  • The 1st Biannual Surveillance and Society Conference: “CCTV and Social Control: The Politics and Practice of Video-surveillance – European and Global Perspectives” a two day  international conference hosted by the Centre for Criminological Research, University of Sheffield, UK;  January 8th & 9th, 2004
  • The 2nd Biannual Surveillance and Society Conference:  “Crime, Justice and Surveillance” A two day  international conference hosted by the Centre for Criminological Research, University of Sheffield, UK;   April 5th &  6th, 2006
  • The 3rd Biannual Surveillance and Society Conference: “Invisibilities:  The Politics, Practice and Experience of Surveillance in Everyday Life“, hosted by the Centre for Criminological Research, University of Sheffield, UK;  April 2nd and  3rd, 2008
  • The 4th Biannual Surveillance and Society Conference:  ”A Global Surveillance Society?” hosted by the School of Social Sciences City University London, UK:  April 13th to 15th, 2010
  • The 5th Biannual Surveillance and Society Conference: “Watch This Space: Surveillance Futures” a two day international conference hosted by the Department of Sociological Studies, University of Sheffield, UK;  April 3rd & 4th , 2012
  • The 6th Biannual Surveillance and Society Conference: “Surveillance, Ambiguities & Asymmetries” a two day international conference to be hosted by University of Barcelona, Spain,  April 24th to 26th 2014