The Moral Economy of Security
(2014) 18:3 Theoretical Criminology
Posted: 19 Jun 2014
Date Written: April 24, 2014
The authors draw upon their recent research into security consumption to answer two questions: 1) under what conditions do people experience the buying and selling of security goods and services as morally troubling? 2) what are the theoretical implications of understanding private security as, in certain respects, tainted trade?
The authors begin by drawing on two bodies of work on morality and markets (one found in political theory, the other in cultural sociology) in order to develop what they call a moral economy of security.
They then use this theoretical resource to conduct an anatomy of the modes of ambivalence and unease that the trade in security generates. Three categories organize the analysis: blocked exchange; corrosive exchange; and intangible exchange. In conclusion, the authors briefly spell out the wider significance of their claim that the buying and selling of security is a morally charged and contested practice of governance.
Keywords: Security, Commodification, Economy, Markets, Morality
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