The History, Means, and Effects of Structural Surveillance

65 Pages Posted: 16 Feb 2016

See all articles by Jeffrey Vagle

Jeffrey Vagle

University of Pennsylvania Law School

Date Written: February 7, 2016


The focus on the technology of surveillance, while important, has had the unfortunate side effect of obscuring the study of surveillance generally, and tends to minimize the exploration of other, less technical means of surveillance that are both ubiquitous and self-reinforcing — what I refer to as structural surveillance — and their effects on marginalized and disenfranchised populations. This Article proposes a theoretical framework for the study of structural surveillance which will act as a foundation for follow-on research in its effects on political participation.

Keywords: Constitutional law, privacy, law & society, law & technology, race & ethnicity, legal history, social control, surveillance harms, information society, bureaucracy, public safety, broken windows policing, CCTV, monitoring of poor, stop and frisk, mistrust of institutions, civic disengagement

Suggested Citation

Vagle, Jeffrey, The History, Means, and Effects of Structural Surveillance (February 7, 2016). U of Penn Law School, Public Law Research Paper No. 16-3. Available at SSRN: or

Jeffrey Vagle (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania Law School ( email )

3501 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA PA 19104
United States
215.253.7890 (Phone)

Register to save articles to
your library


Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics