Working through Surveillance and Technical Communication

Concepts and Connections

By Sarah Young

Subjects: Technical Communication, Communication, English, Writing, Political Science, Theology
Series: SUNY series, Studies in Technical Communication, SUNY Press Open Access
Hardcover : 9781438492766, 236 pages, April 2023
Paperback : 9781438492759, 236 pages, October 2023

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations

1. Introduction to Surveillance and Technical Communication

2. Surveillance Workers and Technical Communicators

3. Information, Technical Communication, and Surveillance

4. Evaluations and Responses: Social Justice, Ethics, and Surveillance

5. Resisting Surveillance through Tactical Communication and Social Justice

6. Surveillance Writing: A Pedagogy


This book addresses contemporary surveillance practices and examines technical communicators' roles in carrying them out.


What is surveillance, and why should we care? Why are those who use technology susceptible to being both agents and targets of contemporary surveillance practices? Working Through Surveillance and Technical Communication addresses these questions, discussing what it means to engage in surveillance, examining why this participation may be problematic, and offering entry points into assessing one's ethical and socially just involvement with surveillance. Further, the book suggests ways to resist both individually and collectively, and it offers pedagogical entry points for those looking to talk about surveillance with others. Led by the central questions, "How are technical communicators also surveillance workers?" and "Why does this matter for technical communication and surveillance scholarship?" the text uses the example of Edward Snowden to illustrate how technical communicators and surveillance workers exist on an often-overlapping range. Sarah Young highlights the potentially discriminatory nature of surveillance and argues that recognizing and evaluating surveillance in is increasingly important in a data-driven world.

Open Access funded by Erasmus University Rotterdam Library in support of open science initiatives. It can be found in the SUNY Open Access Repository at

Sarah Young is is Lecturer at the University of Arizona's School of Information and worked as a postdoc at the Department of Media and Communication at Erasmus University Rotterdam.