Social Control & Surveillance

Humanities & Social Sciences
Course Code
SOCI 3385
Semester Length
15 Weeks
Max Class Size
Method(s) Of Instruction
Typically Offered
To be determined


Course Description
This course will involve an advanced examination of social control and surveillance. Course materials will cover key fields of scholarship, such as governmentality, risk, globalization, citizenship and subjectivity, modernity and late-modernity, private and public space, and surveillance (for example CCTV, drones, and big data). The course will draw on foundational themes of sociological analysis to examine key forms of social inequality, including race, gender, sexuality, disability, class, as well as health and well-being. Readings, lectures and assignments will examine power and resistance in everyday life, social movements, globalization, and technology, to gain a deeper understanding of contemporary issues relating to social control and surveillance.
Course Content
  1. Introduction: Social Control and Surveillance within Sociology
  2. Classical Sociological Theories of Social Control
  3. Contemporary Sociological Theories of Social Control: Governance, governmentality and the Foucault Effect
  4. State Institutions and Social Control (e.g. Prison Industrial Complex, Psychiatric Hospitals, etc.)
  5. Social Inequality, Class and Social Control
  6. Intersectional Approaches to Social Control (e.g. race, gender, disability)
  7. Sociological Theories of Surveillance
  8. Modalities of Risk and the Risk Society
  9. Social Inequality and the Surveillance Society
  10. Hyper-capitalism, Globalization and Consumer Surveillance
  11. Reflexive Modernity, Citizenship and New Media
  12. Surveillance, Technology, and the Military
  13. Social Movements, Power and Resistance in an Era of Surveillance
Learning Activities

The course will employ a number of instructional methods to accomplish its objectives, including some or all of the following:

  • small and large group discussions
  • audio-visual materials
  • seminar presentations
  • lectures (including guest lectures)
Means of Assessment

Evaluation will be carried out in accordance with Douglas College policy and will include both formative and summative components. Specific evaluation criteria will be provided by the instructor at the beginning of the semester. Evaluation will be based on some or all of the following:

  • Participating in class discussion
  • Essays
  • Oral presentations (individual and/or group)
  • Written exams

A sample grade breakdown for this course might be as follows:

Participation - 10%

Midterm Exam - 15%

Research Paper - 30%

Seminar Presentation - 20%

Critical Media Analysis - 10%

Final Exam - 15%

Students may conduct research with human participants as part of their coursework in this class. Instructors for the course are responsible for ensuring that student research projects comply with College policies on ethical conduct for research involving humans.


Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course, successful students should be able to:

  1. Explain foundational and contemporary issues in the sociological study of social control;
  2. Locate the emergence of surveillance studies as a field of inquiry within sociology;
  3. Interpret key sociological theories within contemporary sociological scholarship on social control and surveillance, such as governmentality, risk society, surveillance society;
  4. Examine key areas of scholarship, such as late-modernity, subjectivity, advanced capitalism, prison industrial complex, neoliberalism, globalization, individualization, reflexive modernization;
  5. Critique and identify forms of social control and surveillance that impact the lives of individuals, as well as the structure of contemporary societies. 
Textbook Materials

Below is a sample text that could be used in this course:

Norris, Clive and Dean Wilson (editors). (2017). Surveillance, Crime and Social Control. New York: Routledge.

Below is a list of relevant texts, including academic articles and books, that could be used to design a course reader.

Allen, Theodore. (2012). The Invention of the White Race: Volume 1, Racial Oppression and Social Control. London: New Left Books.

Beck, Ulrich. (1992). Risk Society: Towards a New Modernity. London: Sage.

Dubrofsky, Rachel and Shoshana Amielle Magnet. (2015). Feminist Surveillance Studies. Duke University Press.

Burchell, Graham, Colin Gordon, and Peter Miller (eds.). (1991). The Foucault Effect: Studies in Governmentality. University of Chicago Press.

Giddens, Anthony. (1991) Modernity and Self-Identity: Self and Society in the Late Modern Age. Stanford University Press.

Hannah-Moffat, Kelly and Pat O'Malley. (2007). Gendered Risks. New York: Routledge-Cavendish.

Lyon, David. (2001). Surveillance Society: Monitoring Everyday Life. Open University Press.

Lyon, David. (2012). Liquid Surveillance: A Conversation. Polity Press.

Lyon, David. (2015). Surveillance After Snowden. Polity Press.

Marr Maria, Sunaina. (2016). The 9/11 Generation: Youth, Rights, and Solidarity in the War on Terror. New York: New York University Press. 

Saltes, Natasha. (2013). 'Abnormal' Bodies on the Borders of Inclusion: Biopolitics and the Paradox of Disability Surveillance. Surveillance & Society, 11(1/2), pp. 55-73.

van der Vlist, Fernando. (2017). Counter-Mapping Surveillance: A Critical Cartography of Mass Surveillance Technology After Snowden. Surveillance & Society, 15(1), pp. 137-157.

Wills, Jocelyn. (2017). Tug of War: Surveillance Capitalism, Military Contracting, and the Rise of the Security State. Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press.



Courses listed here must be completed prior to this course:





Course Guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester / year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

Course Transfers

These are for current course guidelines only. For a full list of archived courses please see

Institution Transfer Details for SOCI 3385
Athabasca University (AU) AU SOCI 3XX (3)
Camosun College (CAMO) CAMO HUM 2XX (3)
College of the Rockies (COTR) COTR SOCI 2XX (3)
Columbia College (COLU) COLU SOCI 2nd (3)
Emily Carr University of Art & Design (EC) EC SOCS 300 (3)
Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) KPU SOCI 3XXX (3)
Okanagan College (OC) OC SOCI 3XX (3)
Simon Fraser University (SFU) SFU SA 304 (3)
Trinity Western University (TWU) TWU SOCI 3XX (3)
University Canada West (UCW) UCW SOCI 3XX (3)
University of British Columbia - Okanagan (UBCO) UBCO SOCI 2nd (3)
University of British Columbia - Vancouver (UBCV) UBCV SOCI 2nd (3)
University of Northern BC (UNBC) UNBC SOSC 3XX (3)
University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) UFV SOC 3XX (3)

Course Offerings

Summer 2023