Dr Kirstie Ball is a member of The Open University's Department for People and Organisations.
Kirstie is Reader in Surveillance and Organization. She joined The Open University Business School in 2004 following posts at Birmingham, Warwick and Aston Business Schools. Within the school she has written for The human resources professional (B855), Introduction to business studies (B120) and Strategic human resource management (B827). Since 2009 she has been Director of the Research Degrees Programme.
Kirstie’s research has always focused on surveillance in and around organisations: As an ESRC-funded PhD student she researched the electronic monitoring of employees (1993-1996), and then as an ESRC Management Research Fellow she studied Human Resource Information Systems (1997-2000). She is currently Principal Investigator on the Leverhulme Trust funded project ‘Taking Liberties? New Uses of Consumer Data in the UK’, based at OUBS. Alongside co-investigators Elizabeth Daniel, Sally Dibb, Maureen Meadows and researchers Keith Spiller and Ana Canhoto (Oxford Brookes) she is investigating the impact of government surveillance regimes which collect consumer data from the private sector on those companies and their customer relationships. She is also currently co-investigator on the C$2,500,000 Major Collaborative Research Initiative entitled ‘The New Transparency’ based at Queens University, Canada. Funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the project runs for 7 years from 2008 – 2014 and will support collaborative research between 30 of the leading names in the surveillance studies field. She is collaborator on ‘Living in Surveillance Societies’ an EU-COST network based at Stirling Management School. She has recently completed work as a co-investigator on a multi-million dollar project, again funded by the Canadian Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada entitled The Globalisation of Personal Data also based at Queens University. With collaborators from the US and Europe and with funding from the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research at the University of Bielefeld, Germany, she ran a research workshop on RFID implantation in humans in September 2008 entitled 'Ethical Surveillance Infrastructures'. She has also recently completed an ESRC Seminar Series entitled 'The Everyday Life of Surveillance' as a co-investigator with UK based collaborators. She is co-editor (with Frank Webster) of The Intensification of Surveillance: Crime Terrorism and Warfare in the Information Age (Pluto Books), and has published widely in scholarly journals and books with a number of international co-authors on the issue of surveillance in the workplace and in society. She is currently co-editing The International Handbook of Surveillance Studies with Kevin Haggerty and David Lyon, and The Political Economy of Surveillance with Laureen Snider.
Kirstie’s research interests focus on surveillance in and around organizations, and surveillance in society at large. In particular she is interested in subjectivity and the experience of surveillance, employee surveillance, consumer surveillance and the blurring of public and private boundaries in government surveillance regimes. She has a theoretical interest in surveillance drawing on organization theory, the sociology of the body, science and technology studies and new media theory.
Kirstie regularly appears in the national and international media on surveillance as well as at a variety of activist and think-tank style events. She also acts in an advisory capacity to the media, and has recently advised The Moral Maze, Broadcasting House (both BBC Radio 4) and The Guardian’s ‘Comment is Free’ feature among others. In 2010 she was academic consultant to the BAFTA and EMMY award winning BBC2/Open University production ‘Virtual Revolution?’ In May 2006 Kirstie acted as academic consultant to and appeared in the OUBS-BBC partnered production of The Money Programme, entitled 'The Real Big Brother: Surveillance in Business'.
Kirstie co-founded and co-edits the online journal Surveillance and Society and has established The Surveillance Studies Network with her editorial colleagues from the journal. Surveillance Studies Network is a charitable company and acts as a resource base and contact point for all scholars interested in surveillance-related issues. In 2006 Surveillance Studies Network consulted to the UK Information Commissioner and produced ‘A Report on the Surveillance Society’. It received wide media coverage following its launch and prompted enquiries by the House of Commons Home Affairs select committee and the House of Lords Constitutional committee into the Surveillance Society. A further consultancy to the Information Commissioner resulted in ‘An update to “A Report on the Surveillance Society”’ in 2010.