Thursday, November 02, 2006

CCTV and the decline of public life

In my essay in Liberalism: Something to Shout About I wrote:

Then there is the depopulation of public space over the past 30 years. Semi-official figures like park-keepers and bus conductors have disappeared, largely out of a desire to save public money, and been replaced by technological alternatives. The result is a landscape less friendly to children - you try asking a CCTV camera for help if you have lost the bus fare home.

Inner Hippy has a post on the same theme, which takes the analysis further:
So what is the cost of saving all this money? An environment where people no longer feel protected by authority and where kids/hoodies/drunks/idiots are empowered to assume ownership of these public places - all because the boundaries have been removed. Cameras do not provide boundaries, they provide an intrusive and antagonistic presence that people do not respect or trust.
I am also reminded of a passage from Alexei Sayle's novel The Weeping Woman Hotel which I posted on Serendib:

those into whose charge fell the open spaces during the 1960s were having none of that old malarky - they couldn't quite explain to you how a bandstand could be oppressive of racial minorities while simultaneously putting down women, they just knew it somehow did.

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