In 2007, a city in the Netherlands provided a shop owner with a facial recognition system to detect known shop thieves. This camera system compared faces of individuals in the crowd with police photos of known local shoplifters. In this paper, I ask how facial recognition intervenes in the relations between the various actors involved in monitoring and controlling shop crime. In particular, I focus on how technology affects the pluralisation of surveillance, understood here as the state’s effort to mobilise new types of actors. By studying surveillance as a situated practice of making shoplifters visible, I show how facial recognition was in this case part of an effort to further enlist the supermarket in monitoring petty crime. I furthermore attend to the contingencies of this process. While surveillance technologies can potentially engage new actors, they do not necessarily do so as they may refuse to take part in a particular mode of surveillance. In other words, not only subjects of surveillance resist, resistances may also exist within the networks that perform surveillance.
Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences

Grommé, F. (2012). Surveillance in the Supermarket. In Crime, Security and Surveillance: Effects for the Surveillant and the Surveilled, Eleven International Publishing (pp. 33–53). Retrieved from