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8.3 Researching the Impact of Security Technologies

Within the field of research that investigates and theorises about the impact of security technologies, a wealth of research methodologies have been applied which reflects the diverse nature of the individual technologies and the huge disparities in where and how they are implemented and operated. The discussion below considers some of the methodologies used to study security technologies but only scratches the surface of this complex field of investigation and is intended to introduce the reader to the main forms of evaluation used within the research field.

The expansion of security technologies across many areas of society has lead to intensification of surveillance practices and this in turn has 'prompted rich empirical and theoretical inquiry' (Ball and Haggerty, 2005: 129). The empirical techniques that have been adopted by academic researchers are varied and there has been a great deal of debate regarding the most suitable methods of identifying whether interventions are effective (Tilley, 1998; Farrington, 2002) which is covered below. Academics have also tried to examine the potential impact that expanding security technologies, such as biometrics, may have on society by using various theoretical frameworks and some of the main characteristics of this type of research are examined below.