A Genealogy of 'Fire Prevention'
The University of Sydney Law School
September 14, 2009
Governance and Regulation in Social Life: Essays in Honour of W.G. Carson, pp. 145-163, G. Brannigan, G. Pavlich, eds., Cavendish/Glasshouse: London, 2007
Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 09/89
Socio-legal scholarship has a poor record with respect to the analysis of governance 'beneath the law'. This includes by-laws and forms of private regulation that are in many ways more central to shaping everyday life than law itself. This chapter examines the importance of insurance as an institution that shapes the regulation of fire, and in so doing impacts the built environment in many ways. It concludes that through such instruments as the insurance policy, and the rates charged to institutions, agencies and cities, insurers have been able to impose a regime of fire prevention that embodies sophisticated risk technologies. Moreover, the regime emerged and was put in place substantially by the end of the 19th century - almost a century before such approaches to governance were to reshape such adjacent institutions as criminal justice. The implications of this for understanding the place of risk in modernity, and the value of key approaches to risk - such as ‘the risk society thesis’ are examined.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 26
Keywords: fire, risk, security, insurance, prevention, genealogy, criminology
JEL Classification: K10, K14, K30
Date posted: September 17, 2009