Just Sociology

Hunted: Sociological & Ethical Issues of State Surveillance in Reality TV

The rise of reality television in modern popular culture has provided a range of different entertainment options for viewers across the world. One such show is Hunted, which was first aired in the UK in 2015.

The TV show puts a twist on the standard reality format by pitting teams of fugitives against skilled Hunters, who are state agents tasked with tracking them down. The team that can evade the Hunters for the longest period of time wins a cash prize of 100K.

However, beyond the plot and format of the show, there are several complex sociological and ethical issues that arise from the portrayal of state surveillance and the audience’s perspective of the show. This article will examine and discuss these issues in further detail, with a focus on the show’s plot, format, sociological analysis, the audience’s perspective, state surveillance, surveillance techniques used, the extent of surveillance, and implications for society.

Plot and Format

The basic premise of Hunted involves nine ordinary citizens who are chosen for the show and given one hour to disappear into a city of their choice before being hunted down by a team of skilled and experienced Hunters. The Hunters are state agents who have vast resources at their disposal, including access to surveillance technology, police intelligence, and sophisticated network analysis capabilities.

The objective is to capture as many fugitives as possible within a 28-day period. The show is set in Manchester, UK, and the Games Control Centre is located in a secret location in the city.

The Hunters’ goal is to apply closure tactics to the fugitives by utilizing state-of-the-art surveillance technology, which includes the use of CCTV, phone taps, bank card transactions, bugging computers and car tracking devices. The Hunters’ team also has access to social media profiles, which they can use to build up a comprehensive picture of the fugitives and their network ties through network analysis.

Sociological Analysis

One of the most interesting aspects of Hunted is the sociological analysis that arises from the portrayal of state surveillance. The show demonstrates how state institutions have developed deep-penetrating powers of observation that can intrude into people’s daily lives in ways that are highly invasive.

Instead of focusing on broad patterns of social behavior, state surveillance has become highly targeted and uses a combination of techniques that penetrate most aspects of social and personal life. The show also highlights the legal and ethical implications of state surveillance in relation to privacy and personal freedom.

It raises the question of whether surveillance techniques used by the state are an infringement of personal rights, and whether they represent a threat to societal values and ethical norms. For example, one episode of Hunted depicts the Hunters intercepting the phone call of a fugitive in which the subject discloses highly personal information that is used to track them down.

Audience Perspective

From an audience perspective, Hunted is a disruptive show that disrupts the standard entertainment format by presenting subject matter that is highly relevant to contemporary societal issues. The show raises interesting questions about the role of state surveillance and its potential social control function.

It also provides insight into the kinds of technologies and techniques that can be used to evade state surveillance in the modern era. One critique of the show is that it presents state surveillance as a benign and necessary instrument of social control, rather than a highly problematic and contested phenomenon.

While it is true that surveillance is often necessary for public safety and security, the show’s portrayal of it could normalize surveillance and make it more acceptable in people’s eyes.

Techniques Used

The techniques that state institutions use for surveillance are highly varied and can include a wide range of technologies and methodologies. For example, CCTV cameras can be used to monitor public spaces and private residences for criminal activity.

Bank card transactions can be monitored to track an individual’s spending habits and movements. Phone taps can be used to intercept conversations and gather information about individuals.

Car tracking devices can be used to monitor an individual’s movements and track their vehicle. Social media profiles can be monitored and analyzed as part of larger network analysis frameworks.

All of these techniques can be used to gather information about an individual’s whereabouts, habits, and social ties.

The Extent of Surveillance

The extent of state surveillance is difficult to quantify, but it is clear that the state has tremendous powers of surveillance that can intrude into various aspects of people’s lives. For example, electronic traces can be used to detect an individual’s movements and activities, even when they are unaware of being monitored.

The deep-penetrating powers of observation demonstrated by the state mean that it can use surveillance techniques to gather information about people’s daily lives and routines. As such, the state can be watching people without them even realizing it, or without there being any need to demonstrate probable cause or wrongdoing.

Implications for Society

The implications of state surveillance for society are complex and varied. On the one hand, surveillance may be necessary to prevent crime and ensure public safety.

On the other hand, surveillance can have serious implications for privacy and freedom, which are fundamental values in modern liberal democracies. A surveillance state, in which citizens are monitored continuously and have no privacy, can be highly problematic and threaten the democratic process.

Furthermore, there are concerns that surveillance can be targeted at certain groups, such as minority ethnic groups or marginalized communities, which can be highly problematic from an ethical perspective.


In conclusion, Hunted is a complex television show that raises a range of issues surrounding state surveillance, sociological analysis, and the audience’s perspective. By examining the plot and format of the show, the sociological analysis that arises from the portrayal of state surveillance, and the audience perspective on the show, this article has highlighted key issues regarding state surveillance and its implications for society.

By providing an academically sound and readable article, we hope to communicate intricate ideas to a wider audience and stimulate further discussion and debate around this important issue. In conclusion, this article has explored the complex issues surrounding Hunted, a popular TV show that showcases state surveillance and evading techniques, and state surveillance itself in society.

The sociological implications and ethical concerns raised by these topics demonstrate how vital it is for us to understand the role of surveillance in modern-day society and how it affects our everyday lives. In response to common questions or concerns, below are some frequently asked questions and informative, accurate, and succinct answers to address them.


1. What is Hunted about?

– Hunted is a TV show where teams of fugitives must evade skilled Hunters, who are state agents tasked with tracking them down, for a cash prize of 100K. 2.

What techniques are used in state surveillance? – Techniques used in state surveillance can include CCTV, phone taps, bank card transactions, car tracking devices, and social media analyses.

3. Is state surveillance legal?

– State surveillance can be legal when conducted within appropriate legal frameworks and adhering to ethical norms. 4.

What is the extent of state surveillance in society? – State surveillance is pervasive and can intrude into various aspects of people’s lives, including their daily routine.

5. What are the implications of state surveillance for society?

– State surveillance can have serious implications for privacy and freedom, and a surveillance state can threaten the democratic process. 6.

What are the ethical concerns associated with state surveillance? – Ethical concerns regarding state surveillance include issues surrounding privacy, freedom, and the targeting of certain groups, such as minority ethnic groups, for monitoring.

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