Surveillance, Big Data, Micro-Targeting and the Profiling of Western Electorates
This paper is based on documentary and interview research (funded through the Big Data Surveillance project) and interrogates the influence of consumer micro-marketing techniques within the electoral arena within European parliamentary democracies, rather than the United States. We consider personalized “micro-targeting” on three levels: conceptual, organizational and technological. The segmentation of the electorate, using consumer profiling techniques, has a range of normative consequences that deserve to be analyzed through a surveillance lens. Mindful that the surveillance literature is driven by empirical work in criminal justice, the workplace, and consumption, the norms, dynamics and consequences of surveillance in this campaigning and electoral context are, and should be, different. The subject is the voter (or potential voter) rather than the suspect, the employee, or the consumer. Different subjectivities, we know, dictate different power dynamics, organizational relations, and technological practices.