Silenced Conflict: Surveillance and Normalization Using WhatsApp Groups at School

Camila Moyano Dávila, Sebastián Rojas-Navarro, Raúl Domenech

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To understand the particularities of the surveillance produced by parents' WhatsApp groups and the consequences they have for schools and families. Background: The literature on the use of these groups and platforms for online communication has contended that teachers and parents feel that they are under constant surveillance when they are using them. The advantages and disadvantages of these platforms are presented, as well as recommendations for good practices. Method: Qualitative analysis of two WhatsApp chats of parents from two schools in Chile, one public and one private, using a grounded theory approach. Results: Using a theoretical framework of science, technology, and society studies, we examine the particularities of this surveillance observed in three dimensions: conflicts as smoke bombs, operational surveillance, and affective surveillance. In this respect, we argue that in these groups, intimate surveillance leads to the normalization of certain behaviors that cause conflict to be silenced. Conclusion: We argue that silencing of conflict is problematic in that it does not allow the emergence of different ways of being a teacher or parent, which has significant consequences for families and their relationship with the school, especially in locations similar to the one we studied, where communication between families and schools has relied heavily on messaging apps such as WhatsApp. Implications: WhatsApp groups appear to offer opportunities to subvert the surveillance of digital platforms, as long as conflicts are allowed to be sustained when differences emerge.

Original languageEnglish
JournalFamily Relations
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2023


  • conflicts
  • difference
  • normalization
  • schooling
  • surveillance
  • WhatsApp groups

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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