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'Moral discipline', state power and surveillance : the rise and operation of CCTV surveillance in Riyadh

Alhadar, Ibrahim


Ibrahim Alhadar



The employment of CCTV in contemporary control policy has produced various perspectives and debates in an attempt to understand this phenomenon. In non-western countries, however, there has to date been no academic writing on the topic of CCTV. This thesis aims to make a contribution to these debates by exploring this trend in Saudi Arabia (S.A.) by asking how the rise and use of CCTV cameras fits in with the existing theoretical literature. Moreover, this research seeks to identify and define the structure and operational practices within CCTV sites. With the introduction of CCTV in the process of social control, the research explores its mechanisms by outlining how operators and surveillance technology are organized to meet the requirements and the criteria of those parties who implement surveillance, and thereby to contribute to a better understanding of the employment of CCTV cameras in the Saudi context. It is argued that the employment of CCTV and its rise are attributable mainly to the aspiration of central political control, which has been shaped and formed by cultural values that are dominant in the Saudi society.

Triangulation of research methods was adopted by using three instruments: documentary sources, observation and semi-structured interview.

The findings show the dominance of the central structure of gaze in the current surveillance practices. Although the contemporary surveillance is carried out by various actors, the decentralized surveillance structure is reassembled by state authority for the purpose of strengthening the political control of the state. Moreover, due to the social and cultural characteristics of the Saudi society, the operation of CCTV and the process of targeting are shaped by moral principles and cultural values. Significantly, the present study emphasizes the persistence of 'moral surveillance' in both the operators‟ attitudes towards targeting and the operational process of CCTV cameras in public settings.


Alhadar, I. (2010). 'Moral discipline', state power and surveillance : the rise and operation of CCTV surveillance in Riyadh. (Thesis). University of Hull. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Publication Date Sep 1, 2010
Deposit Date Oct 8, 2014
Publicly Available Date Feb 23, 2023
Keywords Social sciences
Public URL
Additional Information Department of Social Sciences, The University of Hull


Thesis (1.3 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 2010 Alhadar, Ibrahim. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

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