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The Work to Make Facial Recognition Work

Greiffenhagen, Christian; Xu, Xinzhi; Reeves, Stuart

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Christian Greiffenhagen

Xinzhi Xu


Facial recognition technology (FRT) has become a significant topic in CSCW owing to widespread adoption and related criticisms: the use of FRT is often considered an assault on privacy or a kind of neo-phrenology. This discussion has revolved around uses of FRT for identification, which are often non-voluntary, in particular for surveillance wherein people are (by and large) unwittingly recognized by FRT systems. At the same time, we have also seen a rise of forms of FRT for verification (e.g., passport control or Apple’s Face ID), which typically are overt and interactive. In this paper we study an interactive FRT system used for guest check-in at a hotel in China. We show how guests and bystanders engage in ‘self-disciplining work’ by controlling their facial (and bodily) comportment both to get recognized and at times to avoid recognition. From our analysis we discuss the role of preparatory and remedial work, as well as dehumanization, and the importance of CSCW paying closer attention to the significance of interactional compliance for people using and bystanding facial recognition technologies.


Greiffenhagen, C., Xu, X., & Reeves, S. (2023). The Work to Make Facial Recognition Work. Proceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction, 7(CSCW1), 1-30.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 21, 2022
Online Publication Date Apr 16, 2023
Publication Date 2023-04
Deposit Date Dec 6, 2022
Publicly Available Date Apr 16, 2023
Journal Proceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction
Print ISSN 2573-0142
Electronic ISSN 2573-0142
Publisher Association for Computing Machinery (ACM)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 7
Issue CSCW1
Article Number 98
Pages 1-30
Keywords face recognition, facial recognition technologies, biometric, identification, verification, ethnomethodology
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Published: 2023-04-16


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