Surveillance‐driven security during the spectacle: Contested control in the Olympic city

 

Session: PARALLEL SESSION 8Mega‐events

Date and time: 25th April 2014. (17:00‐18:30)

Author: Pete Fussey

Surveillance‐driven security during the spectacle: Contested control in the Olympic city

During the summer of 2012 London hosted one of the world’s largest sporting events that both served to both catalyze numerous existing processes and practices of urban surveillance in the city, and introduce other novel approaches. Drawing on data collected from empirical research during the period of Games – focusing on the application of London’s 2012 Olympic security operation and of those subjected to it (including ethnographic research of police patrols, observations of CCTV suite operations and interviews with key security agencies, activists, arrestees and those subjected Olympic bail conditions) – this paper illustrates the complex, diverse and dynamic uses of surveillance practices during the period. In doing so the longstanding recognition that space is used in simultaneously diverse ways is reflected in the surveillance and control practices applied to it. Moreover, despite the professed unity of purpose among Olympic planners, more detailed analysis reveals both the application and purpose of surveillance-driven ordering processes as contested and sometimes contradictory realms. Within the burgeoning conceptual literature in this field, mega event surveillance and security practices are often characterised as an exceptional exercise in terms of scale, scope and form and considered variously through macro-theoretical lenses citing the assertion of overarching disciplinary, neo-liberal, colonial corporatist and other interest-based aspirations. Drawing on Foucauldian (2007) notions of security and more recent applications to urban surveillance practices (Klauser 2013; Fussey 2013), surveillance-driven spatial impositions of order – regulatory, exclusionary, disciplinary, suggestive and assuasive – are argued to exist simultaneously in the same broadly defined area.