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The Humanities Conference 2003

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Risk and the Commodification of Security

George S. Rigakos.

This paper examines global trends relating to the consumption of security. The data are analyzed in relation to risk theory and political economy. Global insecurity in the wake of 9-11 has only accelerated a process well under-way since the late sixties and early seventies. This process includes a dramatic rise in private sector policing employment and alarm installation and monitoring along with (perceived) changes in the political rationalities of states under neo-liberalism. There are important aesthetic changes in how people relate to their personal security and how these needs are satiated. Moreover, there are also important material transformations in the transmutation of security labour into a tangible product from which capitalists may realize surplus-value. Late modern insecurity can be interpreted in the context of a 'risk society', and changes in governmentality, but these formulations often intentionally eschew class-based analyses. Marxian economic tenets offer a robust way of viewing these global developments in light of the relationship between inequality and policing expenditures.


George S. Rigakos  (Canada)
Assistant Professor
Department of Law Carleton University

George S. Rigakos is a leading expert on risk, class and surveillance in late modernity. His most recent publication is entitled "the New Parapolice: Risk Markets and Commodified Social Control" (U of Toronto Press, 2002).

  • Risk
  • Security
  • Foucault
  • Marx

(30 min Conference Paper, English)