*Special Colloquium* Heymann Lecture: Sarah Brayne, Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Texas at Austin

"Data-Intensive Surveillance, Individual Outcomes, and Group Disparities Across Space"
Apr 24, 2024 at - | PSC Commons, 403

In this talk, Professor Brayne will examine the power of data-intensive surveillance to influence individual trajectories, population-level disparities, and inequalities long important to sociologists. As demonstrated, surveillance influences outcomes through a process of making individuals legible to the state—that is, expanding the depth and breadth of the state’s capacity to “know” its population. Building a theory of institutional legibility, she will leverage two empirical cases. The first draws on ethnographic and interview-based research conducted within the Los Angeles Police Department to understand the social and spatial process of data-intensive surveillance. She will reveal how the police leverage predictive analytics and new surveillance technologies to allocate resources across space and codify risk, shifting discretion to earlier, less visible parts of the policing process. The second case seeks to understand the ambivalent role of the criminal legal system in tethering individuals to the state. She will use demographic methods to analyze incarceration and spatial variation in life expectancy across the United States, with a focus on racial disparities in mortality. Taken together, this research provides key insights into the conditions and consequences by which the state—and increasingly private actors—render populations knowable (and thus governable), and how this process has been transformed through mass digitization and mass incarceration.

In her research, Dr. Brayne uses qualitative and quantitative methods to analyze the social consequences of data-intensive surveillance practices. Her first book, Predict and Surveil: Data, Discretion, and the Future of Policing, draws on ethnographic fieldwork within the Los Angeles Police Department to understand the social implications of how law enforcement uses predictive analytics and new surveillance technologies. In earlier work, she developed a theory of "system avoidance," using survey data to test the relationship between criminal legal contact and involvement in medical, financial, labor market, and educational institutions. Currently, she is analyzing the relationship between criminal legal contact and racial and educational disparities in life expectancy. Dr. Brayne is the founder and director of the Texas Prison Education Initiative (TPEI), which offers credit-bearing college classes to incarcerated people in Texas.