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Anders Albrechtslund

Aarhus University, Denmark
The power of human agency in data-intensive surveillance
01 September 2022 -
30 June 2023
Information and communication studies

Anders Albrechtslund is a Professor of Information Studies at Aarhus University and Director of the Center for Surveillance Studies. Keywords for his research are surveillance, ethics and philosophy of technologies. The overall aim of his research is to investigate the role and impact of surveillance in contemporary society, especially in relation to existing and emerging digital technologies. His work is focused on the uses, meanings and ethics of networked surveillance technologies in individual and organizational contexts, particularly in the areas of everyday social practices, living environments, children’s lives, and healthcare.

Anders Albrechtslund holds the "Major Changes" Chair supported by Sorbonne Université and the Paris IAS.

Research interests

Surveillance in contemporary societies, digital technologies, datafication, interpersonal relations.

The power of human agency in data-intensive surveillance

Surveillance is pervasive in contemporary societies, driven by massive data sourcing and artificial intelligence (AI) in the form of algorithmic decision-making, automated facial recognition systems, tracking and sensing devices, and advanced healthcare technologies. It is vital to fully understand the impact of this data-intensive surveillance on everyday life.

Surveillance is not only employed towards individuals and social groups by public institutions and private corporations, but it is also performed regularly by and for individuals in the intimate context of their private lives. Networked technologies enable interpersonal surveillance in many ways and for many kinds of purposes. This means that viewing surveillance as externally imposed and hierarchical only offers a limited perspective on the unintended and messy ways surveillance affects the social world, and at the same time underestimates the role of human agency in performing, influencing and experiencing surveillance. We are not only objects, but also active subjects of surveillance.

At the core of this research project is the hypothesis that the role of human agency in data-intensive surveillance is key to understanding the capacity and complexity of present and future digitally saturated societies. Emphasis on human agency in surveillance operations has the potential to uncover the way surveillance technologies are contingent on the participation and socio-cultural contexts of users, and how degrees of agency can be restricted or achieved in the use, design, development and regulation of these technologies.


Key publications

Klauser, F. & Albrechtslund, A. (2014). From Self-Tracking to Smart Urban Infrastructures: Towards an interdisciplinary research agenda on Big Data. Surveillance and Society 11(3), pp. 273-286.

Albrechtslund, A. & Lauritsen, P. (2013). Spaces of Everyday Surveillance: Unfolding an analytical concept of participation. Geoforum 49(October), pp. 310-316.

Albrechtslund, A. (2008). Online Social Networking as Participatory Surveillance. First Monday 13(3), March.

Latest publication

Widmer, S., & Albrechtslund, A. (2021). The Ambiguities of Surveillance as Care and Control: Struggles in the domestication of location-tracking applications by Danish parents. Nordicom Review, 42(s4), 79–93.

Talk by Anders Albrechtslund, organized by2022-2023 Sorbonne University / IEA de Paris Research Chair, organized by Vrije Universiteit Brussel
15 Feb 2023 14:00 -
15 Feb 2023 15:30,
Bruxelles :
The interplay between human agency and digital surveillance
Talk by Anders Albrechtslund, Aarhus University, Denmark, 2022-23 Paris IAS Fellow, organized by the laboratoire DICEN-IDF/ CNAM
02 Feb 2023 15:00 -
02 Feb 2023 17:00,
Paris :
The power of human agency in data-intensive surveillance

Contemporary period (1789-…)