The policies and strategies that governments, organizations and communities employ in the search for security have changed dramatically within the past few decades. Advanced technology; wars on drugs, terror, and crime; the global diffusion of policing models; and the rise of mass incarceration and mass surveillance are just a few developments that have transformed the landscape of security. These changes have profound implications for democracy. Just like threats to security, attempts to ensure security can constrict, deteriorate, and circumscribe citizenship. More concretely, security for some often puts others’ right to life at risk, particularly marginalized and stigmatized “others.”
Recent research has emphasized the need to pay closer attention to how people interpret and negotiate security strategies. We need more qualitative research to understand how actors—whether state, non-state, or illicit—resist, appropriate, repurpose, or acquiesce to security strategies, and how these actions shape outcomes. In the banlieues of Paris, Fassin has shown that the regular deployment of anti-crime police units has created “infra-citizens,” who often acquiesce to arbitrary searches that “put them in their place.” Scholars working in Africa and Latin America have shown that, depending on socioeconomic status, one’s security might be provided by a criminal organization, a community group, or a private firm. And ethnographies of urban poverty in the United States and Europe have documented the exponential growth in the state’s capacity to punish and expel, but have also documented survival strategies used by people to evade incarceration and deportation. This qualitative work is key to understanding how the boundaries of citizenship are redrawn and democracy is redefined on the ground.
This special issue will bring together work that analyzes how changes to security alter environments, creating new possibilities for and constraints on state, non-state, and criminal actors and, more broadly, on democracy, citizenship, and survival. Contributions are welcomed on all related themes and topics. Manuscripts may be submitted anytime before November 1, 2016.
The papers will undergo Qualitative Sociology’s normal double-blind peer-review process. Manuscripts should be submitted through Editorial Manager (at http://www.editorialmanager.com/quas/Default.aspx). When submitting, choose “Ethnographies of Security” as the article type. For more information, please contact Rebecca Hanson (firstname.lastname@example.org).