The Securitization of Society: Crime, Risk, and Social Order

The Securitization of Society: Crime, Risk, and Social Order

The Securitization of Society: Crime, Risk, and Social Order

The Securitization of Society: Crime, Risk, and Social Order


Traditionally, security has been the realm of the state and its uniformed police. However, in the last two decades, many actors and agencies, including schools, clubs, housing corporations, hospitals, shopkeepers, insurers, energy suppliers and even private citizens, have enforced some form of security, effectively changing its delivery, and overall role.

In The Securitization of Society, Marc Schuilenburg establishes a new critical perspective for examining the dynamic nature of security and its governance. Rooted in the works of the French philosophers Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze and Gabriel Tarde, this book explores the ongoing structural and cultural changes that have impacted security in Western society from the 19th century to the present. By analyzing the new hybrid of public-private security, this volume provides deep insight into the processes of securitization and modern risk management for the police and judicial authorities as well as other emerging parties. Schuilenburg draws upon four case studies of increased securitization in Europe - monitoring marijuana cultivation, urban intervention teams, road transport crime, and the collective shop ban - in order to raise important questions about citizenship, social order, and the law within this expanding new paradigm. An innovative, interdisciplinary approach to criminological theory that incorporates philosophy, sociology, and political science, The Securitization of Society reveals how security is understood and enacted in urban environments today.


David Garland

The concept of security is familiar enough by now, even if its multiple meanings (crime prevention and public safety but also risk management and control of the future) and its multiple contexts (physical security, military security, economic security, environmental security) sometimes trip us up. and many readers will be aware that the criminological study of policing and crime control has recently given way to a broader, more sociological concern with the diverse ways in which security and urban safety are produced or undermined. But what exactly is the “securitization of society” to which Marc Schuilenburg’s title refers?

“Securitization,” in Schuilenburg’s usage, is the spread of techniques by a multiplicity of actors and agencies that are aimed at “making the future secure and certain,” as he puts it. It is a spider’s web of prevention, inspection, and policing that has attached itself to the routines of urban life and social interaction and that seeks to direct conduct toward ends that enhance public safety and commercial profit. Or, to employ a different metaphor (borrowed from Gilles Deleuze), it is a tangled rhizome of controls that has grown organically in the rich soil of city life, nourished by various authorities in their concern to tend public space and private property, and serving to root social action in a law-abiding culture.

Schuilenburg’s analysis begins from the premise that our societies have undergone a shift from a criminal justice system of crime control, monopolized by the state and its uniformed police, to a hybrid system in which multiple actors and agencies have become jointly responsible for delivering security. the old top-down process of state policing, focused on apprehending criminals, has become a more horizontal, collaborative network chiefly concerned with prevention, risk management, and cost control. As Schuilenburg writes, “Insecurity is no longer a matter for the judicial apparatus alone, but also for schools, football clubs . . .

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