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22 May 2021
01 June 2022
Leisure and Surveillance
The promise of modern technology, in the search for increased comfort and control, is that it will make lives easier; however, it is often accompanied by consequences that are unforeseen. In exchange for convenience and connection, and as some will have us believe, safety, we have surrendered our many aspects of our privacy (Zuboff, 2019), as well as our attention (Wu, 2016), in a Faustian bargain that many of did not know we were making. While various forms of electronic surveillance have existed since the 1860s with the first wiretapping law written for telegraphs (Hochman, 2018), in the last quarter-century, with the advent of the internet and the rise of social media, mobile devices, and various “smart” technologies, the collection, cataloging, and monitoring of our everyday lives have become ubiquitous (Agur & Frisch, 2019; Bauman et al., 2014; Crary, 2013; Fasman, 2021; Goodyear et al., 2019; Price, 2014; Zuboff, 2019).
The mass adoption of devices to make our lives easier, like smart watches and phones, and global obsessions with social media, are worth the attention of leisure scholars in their own right. However, there is an additional obliviousness to - or an inability/unwillingness to confront - the monitoring and documentation of our waking lives in many public and private spheres that has serious and lasting implications for leisure. Little has been written on surveillance in the broad field of leisure studies, barring mentions of caution (e.g., Jordan & Aitchison, 2008; Rose & Spencer, 2016), or subsumed within wider questions of digital leisure cultures (Silk, Millington, Rich & Bush, 2016). This suggests that further critical examination of the numerous and superfluous ways surveillance (un)intentionally creeps into our lives is warranted, such as how we make choices, negotiate and resist or embrace the digitalization of leisure and further make sense of its associated risks and prosumption practices.
Surveillance comes in many forms, but two primary ways it impacts our lives are through our own invitation, in the form of social media and internet use, and more surreptitiously, through “Big Brother” manners of data collection with overt and covert audio and video monitoring in venues outside of our homes, often in the name of capitalist accumulation. In regard to the former, Crary (2013) stated that we “passively and often voluntarily… collaborate in [our] own surveillance and datamining” (p. 46) through careless web browsing and various forms of internet-enabled communication.
What these behaviors result in, according to Zuboff (2019), is reinforcing “the genius” of surveillance capitalism by “storm[ing] the gates of human experience, transforming it into data and translating it into a new market colossus that creates wealth by predicting, influencing, and controlling human behavior” (p. 190). Further, Fasman (2021) stated that we are becoming more immersed in a global culture where “we can be tracked and recorded everywhere we go” and seemingly no longer have “a right to a degree of public anonymity” (p. 21). Communities have been removed from decision-making processes concerning who can capture our likeness, monitor our whereabouts, and how that information is stored, sold, or used against us. For as Zuboff (2019) so bluntly put it, “If industrial civilization flourished at the expense of nature and now threatens to cost us the Earth, an information civilization shaped by surveillance capitalism will thrive at the expense of human nature and threatens to cost us our humanity” (p. 347).
Leisure spaces, practices, and processes are undertheorized and understudied domains in the struggle for determining when, how, and with (or without) what safeguards surveillance will take place in contemporary societies. Classically and popularly understood as a social context in which individuals are free to express themselves and indulge in activities for enjoyment, reflection, and growth (Kleiber, 1999), leisure and its associated activities place individuals and societies in an especially vulnerable position vis-à-vis surveillance. Many people, in efforts to amplify leisure experiences, share them extensively on social media platforms, all the while providing the attention currency upon which the 21st century economy runs. This commodification of our attention within leisure has likely been intensified by the global pandemic in which entire societies, isolated and starved for social connection, turn to commercial digital networks to connect with others and pursue online activities that facilitate expression and escape.
With these concerns in mind, this special issue asks how leisure is a crucial node for the ascendance of surveillance capitalism, and related, how the experience of leisure itself is changing as a result.
Topics could include, but are not limited to:
- Public and private venue surveillance and tracking (e.g., cameras at outdoor recreation sites, concert venues, or sporting events, as well as on transit or other public spaces)
- Social media and its addictive, extractive, or exploitive properties (e.g., transfer of unauthorized recordings and images; fake accounts and catfishing; posting of negative, libelous, immoral, or illegal activities or comments)
- Privatized social capital facilitation (e.g., the “observer effect” from being recorded and that recording is subsequently publicly displayed) and State controlled social credit systems (e.g., mainland China’s mass surveillance system)
- Covert surveillance of individuals in leisure (e.g., the use of technology to record someone without their permission, invasion of privacy, stalking, and the questions of safety)
- The Panopticon and other forms of (often State-sponsored) surveillance (e.g., police bodycams and dashcams; monitoring at political and/or social justice rallies)
- Countersurveillance activities (e.g., underground leisure and leisure spaces that evades surveillance and wider social acceptance along the queer, gendered, class, and racial lines)
- Sousveillance (recording of an activity by a participant, e.g., using a GoPro; and inverse surveillance, such as the recording the actions of others, for public criticism of mistreatment and discrimination – 911 calls, the response to racialized accusations)
- Total surveillance, the omniopticon, and concerns that arise from a society that surveillance is everywhere and for everything, inclusive of leisure, tourism, sport, and recreation
- The Gaze (e.g., sexualization, objectification, romanticization, and/or commodification of various minoritized genders, races, ethnicities, bodies, spaces, cultures, etc.)
- Globalization and surveillance in emerging forms of leisure (e.g., surveillance in Esports).
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Please send proposed paper title, name of author/s and an abstract of no more than 250 words to the guest editors, Jeff Rose ([email protected]), Brett Lashua ([email protected]) and Bonnie Pang ([email protected]) by May 22, 2021.
March 22, 2021 – Opening of the call for papers
May 22, 2021 – Abstracts due
June 8, 2021 – Full papers invited
June 1, 2022 – Submission of full papers by authors
December 2022 – Publication of the Special Issue
Select "Leisure and Surveillance" when submitting your paper to Scholar One.
Please refer to the journal's guidelines for submissions in preparing your paper.
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