This paper stresses that surveillance played a key role in re-conceptualizing politics and the public sphere in the Ottoman Empire. Kirli maintains that notions of “public” and “public opinion” were formed through a series of governmental practices that redefined politics in the second quarter of the 19th century. In doing so, the author resists employing conventional antagonistic conceptualizations of state and society and reductive notions of public and public opinion as merely sociological referents that emerged despite and against the state. Kirli details how public and public opinion were engineered by way of two examples. First, he traces the shifts in public opinion that coincided with the establishment of surveillance, using a set of informant reports generated by the Ottoman government in the 1840s. Second, he highlights the symbolic, though consequential, meaning of an unprecedented practice in courtly behavior (i.e., the sultan's public appearance). These new surveillance practices reflected a new form of governing based on the notion that the population is not a vague entity, but one that is knowable. Making the population legible was at once a process of inscription that required a reconfiguration of power relations, and an inevitable opening up of a new space for communication between the ruler and the ruled. This paper seeks to demonstrate that the formation of the public sphere and the surveillance of the population were inextricably linked.