A Genealogy of 'Fire Prevention'

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

26 Pages Posted: 17 Sep 2009  

Pat O'Malley

The University of Sydney Law School

Steven Hutchinson

Carleton University

Date Written: September 14, 2009

Abstract

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.

Keywords: fire, risk, security, insurance, prevention, genealogy, criminology

JEL Classification: K10, K14, K30

Suggested Citation

O'Malley, Pat and Hutchinson, Steven, A Genealogy of 'Fire Prevention' (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. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1473585

Pat O'Malley (Contact Author)

The University of Sydney Law School ( email )

New Law Building, F10
The University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006
Australia

Steven Hutchinson

Carleton University ( email )

Ottawa, Ontario K1S 5B6
Canada

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