[Cancelled] Refractive Surveillance: Monitoring Customers to Manage Workers with Karen Levy

This event has been cancelled as UW campus operations are suspended due to snow/icy conditions.


On Monday, February 11th Karen Levy will give a talk with the West Coast Poverty Center‘s Seminar Series on Poverty and Public Policy.

“Refractive Surveillance: Monitoring Customers to Manage Workers”

Karen Levy
Cornell University

Monday, February 11th
12:30 pm – 1:30 pm
School of Social Work, Room 305A

Abstract: Collecting information about one group can facilitate control over an entirely different group—a phenomenon we term refractive surveillance. We explore this dynamic in the context of retail stores by investigating how retailers’ collection of data about customers facilitates new forms of managerial control over workers. We identify four mechanisms through which refractive surveillance might occur in retail work, involving dynamic labor scheduling, new forms of evaluation, externalization of worker knowledge, and replacement through customer self-service. Our research suggests that the effects of surveillance cannot be fully understood without considering how populations might be managed on the basis of data collected about others. [joint work with Solon Barocas]

Co-sponsored by the Tech Policy Lab