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Ambient surveillance: how care-for-control emerges across diasporic social media




This article demonstrates how social control in the Filipino diaspora now works through social media surveillance, brokering exchanges of care between activists, on the one hand, and migrants, on the other. Taking care as the ‘pursuit of connections’ (Yates-Doerr, 2014), I outline the history of care-for-control exchanges between migrants and leftist activists. Setting out the cultural norms for reciprocity that shape Filipino expectations for care and political allegiance, I explore how they have travelled within the diaspora. I describe the emergence of ‘ambient surveillance’ – ubiquitous and middle-distance mutual observation that pervades everyday diasporic life – on social media. As care : control exchanges have shifted from face-to-face encounters to ambient surveillance via social networking platform, they continue to limit particular kinds of political participation among migrants and may be excluding reluctant, jaded or dissenting migrants from migration research.

Acceptance Date Oct 24, 2018
Publication Date Mar 14, 2020
Journal Ethnos
Print ISSN 0014-1844
Publisher Routledge
Pages 309-326
Keywords social networks, transnational advocacy networks, diaspora, care, surveillance
Publisher URL