Policing and Incarceration

In-secure identities: On the securitization of abnormality

Highly securitized sites, such as airports, are increasingly using screening methods designed to purge racial profiling from their practices. In these contexts, not only are profiling methods seen as unlawful, but are also perceived as ineffective from a security perspective. Instead of basing security screenings on a perceived ‘dangerousness’ of social categories, these new screening methods aim to rely on automatic and objective criteria. This paper examines the shaping and effects of these security procedures, claiming that this redesigning of security technologies in accordance with practices which are presumably scientific, measurable and objective, has resulted in the creation of new categories of ‘threatening’ persons. Specifically, we show how the category of ‘normal’ has become central to security sorting and how, therefore – unintentionally yet necessarily – these procedures and technologies have become apparatuses of social normalization. People who deviate from given norms are thus singled out as potential security threats and are subjected to extended security probing, if not to outright violence. Tracing the effects of the increasing centrality of normalization processes to the management of securitized sites, this paper examines this reconfiguration of (ab)normality and explores the consequences of the securitization of social deviance.

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Volume 36 Issue 2