William G. Staples

Research Professor, Institute for Policy & Social Research
Director, Surveillance Studies Research Center
Professor Emeritus, Sociology
Primary office:
Blake Hall, Rm 607
1541 Lilac Lane
Lawrence, KS 66045-3129

William G. Staples is Research Professor and Director of the Surveillance Studies Research Center at the University of Kansas. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Southern California and was a Postdoctoral Fellow at UCLA. He taught in the KU sociology department for thirty-one years and in now Professor Emeritus.Staples is well-known internationally for his work in the areas of social control and surveillance. He is the author of five books and dozens of articles and chapters, including the second edition of Everyday Surveillance: Vigilance and Visibility in Postmodern Life, considered a foundational work in the interdisciplinary field of Surveillance Studies. Staples is past Co-Editor of Sociological Inquiry, The Sociological Quarterly, and Associate Editor of Surveillance & Society, the international journal of the Surveillance Studies Network.


Strategies for keeping close watch on people have been with us throughout human history. Yet the widespread, systematic observation of the populace and the collection of personal information in democratic societies today is unprecedented. Contemporary surveillance practices are typically embedded into the routine activities of daily life and adopted in the interests of security, governance, efficiencies, and commerce, but also for personal care and protection, empowerment, resistance, and even play. Regardless of intent, these practices raise a host of social, political, ethical, and legal questions that challenge long-standing notions of privacy, civil liberties, and personal autonomy.


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