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Social Control & Surveillance

Course Code: SOCI 3385
Faculty: Humanities & Social Sciences
Department: Sociology
Credits: 3.0
Semester: 15 Weeks
Learning Format: Lecture, Seminar
Typically Offered: TBD. Contact Department Chair for more info.
course overview

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

Methods of Instruction

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. 

course prerequisites

Courses listed here must be completed prior to this course:

  • SOCI 1125 or SOCI 1145 or SOCI 1155





curriculum 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 schedule and availability
course transferability

Below shows how this course and its credits transfer within the BC transfer system. 

A course is considered university-transferable (UT) if it transfers to at least one of the five research universities in British Columbia: University of British Columbia; University of British Columbia-Okanagan; Simon Fraser University; University of Victoria; and the University of Northern British Columbia.

For more information on transfer visit the BC Transfer Guide and BCCAT websites.


If your course prerequisites indicate that you need an assessment, please see our Assessment page for more information.