• Date: March 27 
  • Time: 12:30 pm – 13:30 pm
  • Speaker: Mr. Chen SHI
  • Venue: E21B-G002
  • Organizer: Department of Sociology
  • Phone: 8822 4595

Surveillance camera, as a public security device, have often been regarded as intrusive for its invasion of privacy. However, today they are common in Chinese homes. Why do Chinese people embrace such a creepy item in the most intimate space? Using data collected through in-depth interviews with various stakeholders in the use of home surveillance cameras, this paper explores how surveillance cameras become a banality in Chinese home settings. We argue that while surveillance cameras were first introduced for controlling both strangers and family members, two new functions have developed. On the one hand, it facilitates long-distance caring while family members are away from home. On the other hand, home cameras become a playful device for their ability to capture otherwise not capturable moments. We argue that the nature of home surveillance cameras has transformed from a controlling device to a multi-functional device involving control, care and play, which explains the popularity of home cameras in China. We also found that while tactical resistance to surveillance is widely practiced in the home setting, these resistances are constrained and limited. This paper not only sheds light on the mechanisms of why home surveillance cameras have become a banality in China, but also contributes to the literature of function creep of surveillance cameras globally.