Against SecurityHow We Go Wrong at Airports, Subways, and Other Sites of Ambiguous Danger

Against SecurityHow We Go Wrong at Airports, Subways, and Other Sites of Ambiguous Danger

Harvey Molotch

Print publication date: 2017

ISBN: 9780691163581

Publisher: Princeton University Press

Abstract

The inspections we put up with at airport gates and the endless warnings we get at train stations, on buses, and all the rest are the way we encounter the vast apparatus of U.S. security. Like the wars fought in its name, these measures are supposed to make us safer in a post-9/11 world. But do they? This book explains how these regimes of command-and-control not only annoy and intimidate but are counterproductive. The book takes the reader through the sites, the gizmos, and the politics to urge greater trust in basic citizen capacities—along with smarter design of public spaces. The book criticizes a range of security structures and protocols: airport security that requires body searches while generating long lines of queuing people; New Orleans water projects that precipitated the Hurricane Katrina flood, and the militarized disaster response that further endangered residents; even gender-segregated public restrooms. The book recommends simple improvements, from better structural design and signage to assist evacuations to customer-service procedures that help employees to spot trouble. More so, it argues for a shift away from command and control toward a security philosophy that empowers ordinary people to handle crises. The result is a far-reaching re-examination of the culture of public fear.