Associate Dean for Strategic Enrollment and Program Assessment
Professor, Political Science
College of Arts and Sciences
Dr. John Gilliom, political science professor and associate dean for strategic enrollment and program assessment specializes in political and cultural dynamics surrounding the emergence of new forms of surveillance. He began his research in the late 1980s when a wave of new surveillance technologies coincided with some high-profile re-thinking of social theory which put a great deal of emphasis on the issue of visibility and power. Gilliom refers to his expertise as a "happy accident," which occurred when the worlds of policy and the academy collided.
"I am endlessly fascinated with the power politics of surveillance and the ways in which increasingly comprehensive surveillance changes our understandings of freedom and individuality," says Gilliom.
Surveillance studies emerged in 1990 as the central line of academic inquiry into the massive expansion of surveillance technology and policy. Although this movement is fairly novel, it is becoming increasingly more important as our society continues to evolve technologically. Gilliom believes that there is no escaping surveillance presently, only limitations to exposure and the option to manage risk.
“We are now a surveillance society and, as we argue, there are no meaningful limits on the increasing expansion of our capacity," he says.
Gilliom and co-author, Torin Monahon expand on the subject of contemporary practices of surveillance in their recent book, “SuperVision: An Introduction to the Surveillance Society.” Gilliom is also the author of, “Overseers of the Poor: Surveillance, Resistance, and the Limits of Privacy,” and “Surveillance, Privacy, and the Law: Employee Drug Testing and the Politics of Social Control.”
In “Overseers of the Poor,” Gilliom found that people facing major increases of surveillance didn't really say much about privacy, but instead focused on their loss of autonomy, their degradation, and the increased hassles of trying to live their lives.
In SuperVision, Gilliom and Monahan trace the effect and implications of surveillance in many dimensions of everyday life. A perfect example of how employers use surveillance to their advantage is laid out in the chapter of Gilliom’s book, “Watching You Work.” In this chapter, Gilliom and Monahon tell the story of a woman who was terminated for arriving late to work - her employer used the parking garage security cameras as evidence of her tardiness.
In addition to his three books, Gilliom has written numerous articles on law, legal theory, and the politics of surveillance. His continued efforts to educate students on law, surveillance, and politics have earned him the University Professor Award, the College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Teacher Award and the Grasselli-Brown Outstanding Teacher Award.