Democracy, Society and the Governance of Security


The promotion of security is no longer a state monopoly. It is dispersed and takes place through the practices of states, corporations, non-governmental actors and community-based organizations. But what do we know about the ways in which 'security' is thought about and promoted in this pluralized field of delivery? Are democratic values being advanced and protected, or threatened and compromised? Wood and Dupont bring together a team of renowned scholars to shed light on our understanding of the arrangements for...

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The promotion of security is no longer a state monopoly. It is dispersed and takes place through the practices of states, corporations, non-governmental actors and community-based organizations. But what do we know about the ways in which 'security' is thought about and promoted in this pluralized field of delivery? Are democratic values being advanced and protected, or threatened and compromised? Wood and Dupont bring together a team of renowned scholars to shed light on our understanding of the arrangements for contemporary security governance. Offering a 'friendly dialogue' between those who argue that democratic transformation rests in the development of strong state institutions and those who propose a more de-centered agenda, the scholars in this volume bring cutting-edge theoretical analyses to bear on empirical examples. This volume will appeal to researchers in the fields of criminology, political science, sociology and security studies.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"It is a top-tier collection of papers that will become a recurrent reference point in ongoing discussions about security, policing and governance."
Kevin D. Haggerty, University of Alberta, Canadian Journal of Sociology Online
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521616423
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/2006
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.67 (d)

Meet the Author

Jennifer Wood is a Research Fellow at Security 21: International Centre for Security and Justice within the Regulatory Institutions Network, Australian National University. She also functions as the Canadian Coordinator of the Project for Safe and Just Communities in Argentina.

Benoît Dupont is Assistant Professor of Criminology at the Université de Montréal, Quebec. He is the author of Construction et Réforme d'une Police: Le Cas Australien (2003) and co-editor, with Mike Enders, of Policing the Lucky Country (2001).

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Cambridge University Press
0521850924 - Democracy, Society and the Governance of Security - Edited by Jennifer Wood and Benoît Dupont

Understanding the governance of security

Jennifer Wood and Benoît Dupont

This collection of essays has an explanatory as well as a normative focus. On the one hand it tries to establish and clarify what it is that we know, as well as that which we don't know (at least very well), about the ways in which 'security' is thought about and promoted within diverse empirical contexts. Based on what we know, and recognizing what we don't know, this book shares some key concerns about how the advancement and protection of democratic values is being threatened or compromised by contemporary arrangements for security governance. In light of such worries, various theoretical and practical ideas for ways forward are argued, and in some cases vehemently so, by contributors to this volume.

What we, as editors, hoped for in preparing this book was to provide more structure to the 'friendly dialogue' that has been occurring between those advancing different descriptions and explanations of what has been happening and/or those offering different assessments of what is at stake for the future of democracy and what to do about it. In reading the chapters herein it will become clear that there is more agreement about what has been happening than there is about what to do about it. None the less, there remain important differences in the ways in which scholars describe and explain contemporary developments, reflecting their use of different conceptual and analytical tools. In this way, the book is intended in part to provide an opportunity for 'taking stock' of similarities and differences in scholarly opinion. While the themes and issues raised in this collection are undoubtedly complex, and probably raise more questions than provide more answers, the idea for the book itself emerged from the stance that we (and hopefully others) share that 'superior explanatory theory (ordered propositions about the way the world is) and superior normative theory (ordered propositions about the way the world ought to be) arise from an explicit commitment to integrating explanatory and normative theory' (Braithwaite 2002a: ⅸ-ⅹ). If this book has made but a modest contribution to this 'integration' enterprise, it will have achieved its core purpose.

This introductory chapter is intended primarily to establish the core explanatory themes of this collection, leaving a consideration of normative issues and agendas to the concluding chapter. Presumably, the best place to start is with the one conceptual pillar that supports all the various chapters, which is the notion of the 'governance of security'. The term 'governance' in this context refers to conscious attempts to shape and influence the conduct of individuals, groups and wide populations in furtherance of a particular objective - in this case, 'security'. It can be similarly described, just as Shearing does in this volume, as 'shaping the flow of events' (Parker and Braithwaite 2003). The key theoretical influence on the term is Foucault's notion of 'government', which refers essentially to the 'right disposition of things, arranged so as to lead to a convenient end' (1991: 93). In line with the Foucauldian claim that 'political theory attends too much to institutions, and too little to practices' (Gordon 1991), to govern means 'to structure the possible field of action of others' (Foucault 1982: 220 cited in Simon 1997: 174).

Notwithstanding the theoretical (and hence potentially off-putting) nature of the term 'governance', it can and has been utilized to make the very practical point that collective goods, like 'security', are promoted by a range of institutions including, but not limited to, those of the state and its military and criminal justice organizations. The chapters in this book illustrate this 'plurality' through various empirical examples and cases, such as the participation of 'commercial military service providers' at the transnational level ( Johnston), the establishment of inter-agency networks in anti-terrorist efforts (Manning), the 'marketization' of public policing (including patrol) and forms of 'enclosure' such as 'gated communities' and privately owned shopping malls (Crawford).

While the contributors to this volume agree that pluralism is a general trend, the ways in which they describe, explain and assess this plurality differ. The contributions by Shearing, Johnston, Burris and Wood promote a 'nodal governance' approach ( Johnston and Shearing 2003; Shearing and Wood 2003b; Burris 2004; Drahos 2004; Burris et al. 2005), one which 'refuses to give conceptual priority to any particular locus of power' ( Johnston, this volume: 34). While the term 'nodal governance' is relatively new in its usage (see Kempa et al. 1999 for an early conceptualization) its intellectual origins can be traced to the work of Shearing and Stenning (1981; 1983; 1985) some two decades ago on the rise of ' private governments' (Macaulay 1986), defined by Shearing as 'non-state entities that operate not simply as providers of governance on behalf of state agencies but as auspices of governance in their own right' (this volume: 11). For the past two decades Shearing has been arguing, with increased vigour, that scholars must move out of a 'state-centred view of governance', which he sees as a 'particularly tenacious paradigm' that 'needs to be eclipsed' (13). He adds, '[t]his is so not simply because this…view of the world is preventing us from developing an understanding of the world that captures what has been taking place, but because it is limiting normative thinking' (13). More recently, Shearing, along with others, has suggested that a 'nodal conception' of governance provides a means of breaking out of this paradigm. 'Just what the role of the state is and how it does or does not relate to other nodes should be an empirical question and not one to be decided a priori on the basis of conceptual claims such as those of Hobbes and Weber' (27).

A 'node', Burris summarizes (2004: 341), is 'a site of governance exhibiting four essential characteristics:

  • Ways of thinking (mentalities) about the matters that the node has emerged to govern;
  • Methods (technologies) for exerting influence over the course of events at issue;
  • Resources to support the operation of the node and the exertion of influence; and
  • An institutional structure'.

As both Johnston and Wood point out, the general line of empirical inquiry that Shearing advocates has to date been pursued in ways that focus largely (but not exclusively) on the 'mentalities' and associated 'technologies' of different governance nodes. This has led to the identification of, and distinction between, 'risk-based thought and action' ( Johnston, this volume: 35) - seen to reside 'naturally' in corporate governance ( Johnston and Shearing 2003: 76) - and a 'punishment mentality' seen as deeply embedded in the practices of criminal justice institutions ( Johnston and Shearing 2003). In his chapter on transnational security governance Johnston seeks to move beyond such a depiction of ideal typical nodes to explore ways in which, and the extent to which, proactive (risk-based) and coercive military technologies are melded. For example, 'governments are now turning to contractors for operational services that either require or make more likely their use of force' (44). In recognizing this complex 'mixing' of ways of thinking and acting within and across nodes, Dupont points out that the language of 'privatization' 'restricts the transformation of the security field to a dichotomous and simplistic analytical framework impervious to the infinite combinations possible…Hence, the continuum approach, with the "public" and the "private" at each end, and various unpredictable combinations of pluralization and commodification in its middle, seems more appropriate to depicting the current situation' (this volume: 87).

Both Manning and Dupont place more conceptual emphasis on 'networks' of security governance, and seek to advance our understanding of how networks are constituted in particular time- and space-specific contexts. Similar to Johnston's critique of ideal typical descriptions, both of these authors see the formation of networks in terms of continuous, iterative and more or less temporary processes carried out by a range of security actors (nodes) according to different positions of power. Based on two case studies of American anti-terrorist activities (the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics and the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston), Manning echoes Johnston in arguing that risk-based thinking differs across the local, state and federal agencies that come together to manage terrorist threats. 'Risk' and 'security', he argues, are 'imagined' and constructed by agencies according to their own 'tacit knowledge' and established ways of acting on particular problems. He contrasts, for instance, the risk-orientation of local police with that of federal agencies like the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Whereas the police (due to their primarily reactive capacity) imagine risk according to categories of crimes and criminal sanctions - what Simon would describe as the 'governing through crime' approach (1997) - federal agencies deploy a more future-oriented, long-term perspective centred on an 'intelligence-based' perspective. Manning's study reminds us that established ways of acting on problems - organizational 'habits' as it were - shape ways of thinking; 'the objects of concern, what is seen, are sustained by the practices that have developed over time to detect them' (82). Furthermore, 'networks' are best seen not in terms of crystallized structures, but as more or less temporary hubs of practice. '"Network" is a metaphor…that does not assume shared aims', but does assume behavioural interchange and practices that 'intersect to form a consistent concrete system of action' (54).

Manning's work points to the need for further research - that deploys a range of methodologies, including ethnography (as he has done) - on the highly site-specific and contingent nature of network formation. Dupont makes a similar point in his study of how governance 'auspices' and 'providers' (Bayley and Shearing 2001) engage in 'power struggles' with one another (and even within their own organizations) as they seek to 'jockey' for important positions in the field of security delivery. Based on data collected for an 'oral history' project sponsored by the Australian Institute of Criminology, Dupont looks at what police commissioners (both active and retired) had to say about those actors in the security field with whom they engaged, aligned with or contested, namely political actors, unions, the media and community groups. The comments of commissioners revealed 'how their field of possible actions was shaped or constrained' (this volume: 96) by these actors. He further examines 'how police commissioners exercised their agency and manoeuvred through this field' (97). Dupont contends that the power plays engaged in by commissioners involved 'accumulating', 'investing' and 'trading' different forms of what Bourdieu (1986) describes as 'capital' (economic, political, cultural, social and symbolic) in order to promote their particular organizational interests. Such power struggles are geared towards a 'broader tacit outcome', where the public police are the central and most 'professional' guarantor of security, an outcome that others have similarly observed in the power struggles of police unions (Fleming et al. in press).

Notwithstanding such power struggles, some contend that the public police do, by their very nature, possess a rather 'sacred' status and cannot be seen simply as 'one node among many' (Crawford, this volume: 137). Consistently with Dupont's analysis, Crawford examines ways in which different policing and security providers relate to and engage with one another in a 'mixed economy'. A key dimension of this mixed economy is the development of a 'second tier of policing and security [that] has mushroomed sometimes blind to, at other times in conflict or competition with, and at yet other times hand in hand with or steered by, state policing' (111). He sees this second tier as of a very different character to that of state policing which 'occupies a residual position, one which is both symbolically and normatively different from other forms of security provision' (112).

Crawford deploys the conceptual framework of 'club goods' in unravelling the strategies of particular interest groups - either residential or commercial - in their quest for additional security. His analysis shows that the pursuit of privileged access to security depends as much on private providers as on the capture of public goods such as policing, and their enclosure to the benefit of mini-sovereignties. 'Security clubs' engage in 'power struggles', as Dupont would put it. 'They can use state policing as a background asset, sometimes drawing it into the foreground for symbolic or instrumental purposes. In so doing, they can exploit its general, all-encompassing and sacred mandate' (Crawford, this volume: 136).

Marks and Goldsmith make a similar point about the 'residual' character of state governance. They argue that notwithstanding the democratic potential of community-based governance structures (which must be assessed very carefully), the state is, philosophically and practically speaking, best placed to manage and deliver security in an equitable manner and in accordance with universal normative standards. Drawing from the South African experience, they view the rise of private security as a 'supplement' to inadequate state-provided security, implying that 'large lacunae of unpoliced space' remain (this volume: 158). They further add that '[w]here state protective services have been unreliable or absent, community reliance upon the alternatives will almost always, we suggest, reflect necessity rather than unimpeded free choice or a freely chosen preference with a realistic possibility of exit or voice' (163; italics in original). For those who do subsist in 'unpoliced space', it is the state that is 'best placed in terms of capacity, legitimacy and effectiveness to provide equitable policing services' (139-40).

Marks and Goldsmith's view is supported by Loader and Walker's contention that 'the state's place in producing the public good of security is both necessary and virtuous' (this volume: 167). From an instrumental perspective they argue that the 'security of any individual depends in some significant fashion upon the security of others, and thus that the very idea of "private security" is oxymoronic' (Loader 1997b). They explain that the 'objective security situation' of an individual is optimized only if one's own self-protection measures are complemented by the security-producing activities of a range of citizens, groups and agencies that can so contribute. In addition to this instrumental dimension of security, they also argue that there is a social dimension: 'The individual, in order to feel confident in his or her ability to pursue his or her ends without interference, must feel reasonably secure that the conditions for the effective and ongoing realization of his or her objective security are themselves reasonably secure' (Loader and Walker, this volume: 186). Furthermore, Loader and Walker argue that security has a 'constitutive' dimension. The pursuit of security both reflects and constitutes a 'we feeling' based in a form of 'political community' bound by its 'affective commitment to put things in common'. They suggest that it is states, or their 'functional equivalents', that are best placed to engage in 'instrumental ordering work and in the work of cultural production of social identity' (193).

This stance that states are a 'necessary virtue' (Loader and Walker, this volume) in the production of security for all must be tempered by an awareness, and concrete empirical assessment, of those 'vices' that have concerned state sceptics over the years. As Loader and Walker concede, '[t]he state can be and often has been a physical and psychological bully. It is prone to meddling, to interfering where it is not wanted. It does take sides, and in so doing packs the hardest punch. It will tend towards stupidity' (183). While Marks and Goldsmith contend that states, in Loader and Walker's words, are 'indispensable to any project concerned with optimizing the human good of security' (183), they acknowledge 'there are clear transformation deficits' in the democratization of South African policing. What is required is to 'understand why police continue to act in ways that are undemocratic and to think about ways to promote speedier change within these organizations' (Marks and Goldsmith, this volume: 144). They add that such an agenda must involve a sophisticated appreciation of police culture.

As we write this introductory chapter we find ourselves creeping into the realm of the normative. States may be seen as 'necessary' as much as 'virtuous', and in this way, essential to any conceptualization of democratic security governance. If one accepts this call for a cautiously optimistic 'state-centredness', one need not, however, assume that non-state forms of governance do not, or could not, have the capacity, legitimacy and effectiveness to enhance or enrich the delivery of 'public security' so conceived. In addition to Marks and Goldsmith, Loader and Walker make this point in their call for an 'anchored pluralism' (this volume: 194). This is a point taken up more explicitly by Burris, who explores the implications of both state-centred and nodal governance approaches to the transformation of security governance in accordance with public health outcomes.

Burris is concerned not only with the health consequences of crime and insecurity, but also with the vices of criminal justice institutions and practices in terms of ways in which health outcomes are compromised by the pursuit of security outcomes. While physical and emotional 'costs' of crime victimization are obvious, '[t]he means used to prevent and punish crime also have dramatic health consequences' (this volume: 198). For example, the use of imprisonment can lead to the development of prison populations that have high rates of rape and violence as well as high incidences of communicable disease. Also, some law enforcement practices of police can actually undermine the opportunities for drug users to deal with their addictions such as attending syringe exchanges, which could thereby increase their chances of engaging in risky behaviour. At the same time, the institutions of police, courts and corrections can be seen as promoters of health outcomes. For instance, '[c]riminalization of drug use makes the criminal justice system, from the police officer through the court or drug court to the prison, a player in the provision of drug treatment' (200). As another example, he suggests that 'the deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill combined with a lack of health services has left prisons to care for patients who would once have been in the psychiatric treatment system' (200). In this vein, he explores ways in which a state-centred approach would involve efforts to both minimize the health-related harms of criminal justice institutions as well as maximize their health-related benefits, with the proviso that '[t]he standard state institutions of police, courts and prisons are necessary but not sufficient to the governance of security' (206).

Burris' discussion reminds us of the importance of clearly setting out the criteria against which established institutions and practices of security governance can be assessed. For him, the health consequences of security practices are paramount, but say for Crawford, it is those broader patterns of inclusions and exclusions generated by the delivery of 'club goods' that inform his explanatory work. In her chapter on innovating in the field of security, Wood argues that the future of research and innovation in the governance of security should be guided by a much more systematic and robust explanatory and normative agenda, one that serves to unite scholars and practitioners, such as the contributors to this volume, in a common quest to enhance our understanding of what is happening in the governance of security, what its outcomes are in relation to the delivery and distribution of particular 'goods', and what to do about the harmful outcomes that threaten the very protection of democratic values in the communities and societies in which we live. This multi-pronged agenda would consist firstly of a rich set of explanatory lines of inquiry that deploy a range of qualitative and quantitative methodologies in answering new questions in interesting ways, or even asking old questions in new ways. Secondly, it would involve establishing a clear set of criteria against which we are conducting a normative assessment. This would allow us to make explicit those normative issues that we are bringing to the fore (e.g. the negative outcomes for disadvantaged and marginalized populations) as well as those which we are neglecting (e.g. the deleterious effects on health of criminal justice practices). Such an assessment would then inform the design and implementation of innovations - such as models, policies, programs and practices - aimed at addressing what we discover to be 'democratic deficits', 'transformation deficits', or general 'governance deficits' in the time- and space-specific contexts within which we are working.

Within this overall approach to research and innovation in the governance of security, projects could be developed with various degrees of narrowness or breadth in regard to that which is the central object of inquiry. Such a project could centre specifically, for example, on what is happening in public policing, even though the research orientation that Wood promotes is one that supports Shearing's call for better maps of the 'mentalities', 'institutions', 'technologies' and 'practices' of state and non-state nodes. On the other hand, projects could be devised that map nodal relations and the 'networks' they constitute, consistent with the work of Manning and Dupont. Of course, such projects on the governance of security can easily become projects on the governance of health, as the work of Burris reminds us. 'Security' is indeed a 'wicked issue' (Clarke and Stewart 1997), one that is thought about and acted on by a range of governance institutions regardless of their primary mandate.

This brings us to a question that we have skirted around in the above discussions. What is 'security'? As Manning reminds us, 'security' is 'imagined' (Wood and Shearing in press). Buzan and Wæver similarly contend that 'security' is not an objective state of affairs, but a 'speech act' (Wæver 1995; Buzan et al. 1998); '[it] is not of interest as a sign that refers to something more real; the utterance itself is the act' (Wæver 1995: 55). For them, 'securitization' is a process of social construction involving those who carry out the speech act ('securitizing actors') who articulate an existential threat to a 'referent object' (Buzan et al. 1998). Traditionally, studies in areas like the sociology of policing or international relations have centred on the state as the primary 'referent object'. This, however, is shifting. In some circles, human beings, and in some cases, the environment and the planet are now emerging as the central referent objects in processes of 'securitization'. In the 'human security' movement,

[t]hinking about security broadened from an exclusive concern with the security of the state to a concern with the security of the people. Along with this shift came the notion that states ought not to be the sole or main referent of security. People's interests or the interests of humanity, as a collective, become the focus. In this way, security becomes an all-encompassing condition in which individual citizens live in freedom, peace and safety and participate fully in the process of governance. They enjoy the protection of fundamental rights, have access to resources and the basic necessities of life, including health and education, and inhabit an environment that is not injurious to their health and well-being. (Ginwala, in Commission on Human Security 2003: 3)

Burris' chapter provocatively leads us towards a 'health security', and, more broadly, a 'human security' paradigm (see generally UNDP 1994: 27-8 and Commission on Human Security, 2003) and Marks and Goldsmith's chapter acknowledges 'the inextricable link between security and development' (this volume: 151). Shearing's chapter implicitly 'securitizes' poverty and structural inequity and alludes to the need for a more rigorous 'dialectic' between 'state-centric' and 'human-centric' notions of security (Kerr 2003). This book, however, will not satisfy readers interested in a comprehensive engagement with new discourses and practices of securitization, a task which is too ambitious for a single collection of essays. Rather, we have attempted to establish some conceptual parameters, similar to what Bayley and Shearing did in their analysis of the future of policing, where they clarified that 'the scope of our discussion is bigger than the breadbox of the police but smaller than the elephant of social control' (1996: 586). In a similar vein, we would stipulate that the discussions contained herein can be understood as bigger than the breadbox of 'governing through crime' (Simon 1997), but smaller than the elephant of, say, 'governing through development'. In the end, perhaps what is most important is to recognize that the concepts and language we use shape to a large extent what is 'thinkable' as either an explanatory line of inquiry or as a means of engaging normatively. Indeed, as Shearing reminds us, 'ways of seeing are always also ways of not seeing' (this volume: 12).

© Cambridge University Press
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Table of Contents

Introduction: understanding the governance of security Jennifer Wood and Benoît Dupont; 1. Reflections on the refusal to acknowledge private governments Clifford Shearing; 2. Transnational security governance Les Johnston; 3. Two case studies of American anti-terrorism Peter K. Manning; 4. Power struggles in the field of security: implications for democratic transformation Benoît Dupont; 5. Policing and security as 'club goods': the new enclosures? Adam Crawford; 6. The state, the people and democratic policing: the case of South Africa Monique Marks and Andrew Goldsmith; 7. Necessary virtues: the legitimate place of the state in the production of security Ian Loader and Neil Walker; 8. From security to health Scott Burris; 9. Research and innovation in the field of security: a nodal governance view Jennifer Wood; Conclusion: the future of democracy Benoît Dupont and Jennifer Wood.

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