Faculté des lettres et sciences humaines

Difficulties in Revitalizing Public Space By CCTV : Street Prostitution Surveillance in the Swiss City of Olten

Klauser, Francisco

In: European Urban and Regional Studies, 2007, vol. 14, no. 4, p. 337-348

This article critically assesses the adequacy of CCTV as an instrument to revitalize urban areas suffering from concentrated social disadvantage. Empirically, it focuses on the video-surveillance of street prostitution in the Swiss city of Olten. This CCTV system was installed at the beginning of 2001 and focuses on an urban `hot spot' used by different types of marginalized social groups. In the... Plus

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    Summary
    This article critically assesses the adequacy of CCTV as an instrument to revitalize urban areas suffering from concentrated social disadvantage. Empirically, it focuses on the video-surveillance of street prostitution in the Swiss city of Olten. This CCTV system was installed at the beginning of 2001 and focuses on an urban `hot spot' used by different types of marginalized social groups. In the Olten case-study, video-surveillance is examined as it is understood and perceived both by the population at large and by daily users of the monitored area. In investigating whether surveillance cameras render monitored areas accessible to people erstwhile excluded from that space because of their negative subjective perception of risks, this article puts particular emphasis on the phenomenon of `distanciation' caused by CCTV. By showing that CCTV is forgotten very quickly and felt to be somehow unreal against the background of everyday social activities in monitored areas, this approach also stresses that CCTV is very limited as an instrument to revitalize public places of fear.