Research Note: Surveillance in contemporary health and social care: friend or foe?

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This research note concerns the increasing ranges of technologies that are being used to monitor health and wellbeing. Many of these can be broadly interpreted as ‘surveillant’, implying powerful watching, even if this is not widely acknowledged. However, surveillance entails connotations of potentially inappropriate intrusion and impairment of valued freedoms. Therefore, the social and ethical ramifications of surveillance for health are a concern, particularly as technological advances are continually overtaking knowledge and understanding of them. While surveillance in health-related contexts has received some attention, conceptual and practical issues and social and ethical implications continue to arise with new, diverse and rapidly proliferating technologies.These need further investigation, especially because the direction of surveillance can be either health professional-led (‘surveillance’), or patient- or group-led (‘sousveillance’). This distinction has recently been identified as relevant to the research gap, particularly in respect of everyday life settings and integration, the ‘domestication’, of healthcare technologies. Ongoing and proposed future research explores social and ethical considerations pertaining to surveillant technologies for health and social care in the context of people’s everyday lives to contribute greater knowledge and understanding of health surveillance and its complexities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)594-596
Number of pages3
JournalSurveillance & Society
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • surveillance
  • technologies
  • health and social care


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