This book provides a critical engagement with the idea of the ‘security society’ which has been the focus of so much attention in criminology and the social sciences more broadly. ‘Security’ has been argued to constitute a new mode of social ordering, displacing the ‘disciplinary society’ that Foucault saw as characteristic of the liberal era. He saw a ‘control society’ (or ‘risk society’) characteristic of Neo-Liberalism, in which the deviant behaviour of particular individuals, as less important than general attempts to offset risk and reduce harm. Dodsworth argues that much of this literature is extraordinarily present-ist in orientation, denying the long history of attempts to mitigate risk, prevent harm and manage security which have always been a part of the government of order.
This book develops a ‘critical history’ of security: a thematic analysis of debates about security and aspects of The Security Society which puts contemporary arguments and practices in dialogue with the texts and practices of the past. In doing so the book develops a cultural analysis of the meanings of security and the way these meanings have been articulated in particular practical contexts in order to understand how the promise of security has so effectively captured the imagination and channeled the effective engagement of people throughout the modern period.
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