Surveillance and the home

I found Ann Gray’s article on the way women watch television especially interesting this week, and very relevant to the topic of surveillance and self. One aspect of that that comes through really strongly is the guilt that the married women in the article describe when they watch too much television during the day, and the fact that they’re so critical of the types of media they enjoy when compared to the types their husbands like. Both of these things reminded me of Foucault’s ideas on self-surveillance.

I also thought about the way their husbands controlled so much of their viewing, which is perhaps another source of surveillance, and the way they always take priority when they are present, displacing both the women’s preferences as well as their television-viewing with friends. Perhaps, too, the indirect and/or imagined surveillance of the husbands contributes in some way to the guilt and self-criticism that the women experience while alone?

The one glaring limitation of the article seemed to be that it was only about married women and only about heterosexual women, and all of its analysis was built on that assumption without even acknowledging it. Quite a lot of the article also seems to assume that the married heterosexual women don’t have jobs outside of the home. So I’d be really interested in reading something that takes into account these complications, like who has control of the television in queer relationships, or whether single women still feel guilt when watching television.

Surveillance and the home

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