How private security officers perceive themselves relative to police

  • Manzo J
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Abstract

Abstract Efforts to analyse and describe the ever more salient phenomenon of private security have promoted the creation of certain neologisms, such as ‘ parapolice ’ and ‘ quasipolice ’ , to cap- ture the notion that this privatized, commodifi ed variant of uniformed social control is not ‘ police ’ and must be contrasted with legitimate sources of governance. However, even though such critical insights are often accompanied by or in service to empirical investigations of private security, the focus of these has rarely been the perspectives of workers in private security, and their own specifi c orientations to themselves vis-a-vis police. Through inspection of open-ended interviews with 29 security offi cers, all employed in Canadian shopping malls, as well as analysis of narratives from online forums, this paper seeks to uncover how security personnel construe themselves relative to police. Findings suggest that interviewees recognize and appreciate fundamental differences be- tween police and security, but also that they report, in nuanced and unanticipated ways, import overlaps and even interdependencies between their tasks and those of the police.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Ethnomethodology
  • Perceptions
  • Police
  • Private security

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Authors

  • John Manzo

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