Book Chapter

Myths, Rhetoric and Policy in the Information Age: The Case of Closed Circuit Television



Webster CWR (2007) Myths, Rhetoric and Policy in the Information Age: The Case of Closed Circuit Television. In: Griffin D, Trevorrow P & Halpin E (eds.) Developments in E-Government: A Critical Analysis. First ed. Innovation and the Public Sector, 13. Amsterdam, The Netherlands: IOS Press, pp. 16-30.

This chapter explores the policy processes surrounding the rapid emergence of new Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) surveillance systems in public places across the UK. In particular, it highlights the importance to technological diffusion of myths, discourse and political rhetoric. The enhanced surveillance capabilities offered by new information and communication technologies make CCTV systems inherently powerful. Despite this, and despite limited knowledge about whether the cameras work or not, their introduction has been relatively uncontroversial. One explanation for the popularity of these systems is an unnerving faith in the technology, a general belief that the cameras ‘work' and that they are a ‘good thing'. This perception has been encouraged by political rhetoric and shaped by key institutional forces in the policy process. Ultimately, the case of CCTV shows, that discourse and myths about a technology are as important to its diffusion as the technological artefact itself. Consequently, creating myths, influencing discourse and shaping perceptions are core aspects of policy-making in the information age.

Title of seriesInnovation and the Public Sector
Number in series13
Publication date31/12/2007
PublisherIOS Press
Publisher URL…-in-e-government
Place of publicationAmsterdam, The Netherlands
ISSN of series1871-1073

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Professor William Webster

Professor William Webster

Personal Chair, Management, Work and Organisation