Augmenting justice: Google glass, body cameras, and the politics of wearable technology

Academic Article


  • Purpose This paper aims to uncover the assumptions and concerns driving public debates about Google Glass and police body cameras. In doing so, it shows how debates about wearable cameras reflect broader cultural tensions surrounding race and privilege. Design/methodology/approach The paper employs a form of critical discourse analysis to discover patterns in journalistic coverage of these two technologies. Findings Public response to Glass has been overwhelmingly negative, while response to body cameras has been positive. Analysis indicates that this contrasting response reflects a consistent public concern about the dynamics of power and privilege in the digital economy. While this concern is well-founded, news coverage indicates that technologists, policy makers and citizens each hold assumptions about the inevitability and unvarnished beneficence of technology. Research limitations/implications Since this qualitative approach seeks to discern broad emergent patterns, it does not employ a quantifiable and reproducible coding schema. Practical implications The article concludes by arguing that grassroots action, appropriate regulatory policy and revitalized systems of professional journalism are indispensable as the struggle for social justice unfolds in the emerging digital economy. Social implications These debates represent a struggle over what and how people see. Yet public discourse often glosses over the disadvantages of technological change, which impacts who is able to amass social power. Originality/value This comparative approach yields unique conceptual insight into debates about technologies that augment ways of seeing.
  • Authors

  • Healey, Kevin
  • Stephens, Niall
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • 2017
  • Keywords

  • Digital culture
  • Information ethics
  • Journalism ethics
  • Surveillance
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Start Page

  • 370
  • End Page

  • 384
  • Volume

  • 15
  • Issue

  • 4