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Against Security: How We Go Wrong at Airports, Subways, and Other Sites of Ambiguous Danger

by

Against Security: How We Go Wrong at Airports, Subways, and Other Sites of Ambiguous Danger Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

"Molotch brings both wisdom and remarkable skills to this compelling book, including a prose style that is rich, lively, and a pleasure to read. With keen eye and gifted hand, as well as clear, hard data, he puts the subject of Against Security into context and offers thoughtful and sensible solutions to the problems he draws our attention to."--Kai T. Erikson, author of A New Species of Trouble: Explorations in Disaster, Trauma, and Community

"This remarkable, original book analyzes the frequently misguided efforts of government to instill in people a sense of security. What makes Against Security so unusual is that it goes beyond critique to sympathetic recognition of people's fears, understanding the motives that lead politicians and the public to act in seemingly irrational ways, and recommending practical measures with which to confront threat without transgressing dignity."--Susan S. Fainstein, Harvard University Graduate School of Design

"A breakthrough--Against Security is an original contribution to social theory and a dazzling critique of how security is managed in everyday life and in situations of crisis."--Anthony Giddens, former director of the London School of Economics and Political Science

"This is a major sociological contribution to public debates about the increased security governments across the world have introduced to anticipate risks and prevent disasters. Molotch skillfully connects public fears about security to the private anxieties and intense inequalities these measures have generated, and he urges alternative human strategies developed from daily routines and mutuality."--Bridget M. Hutter, London School of Economics and Political Science

"A mesmerizing exploration of the things that scare us, Against Security exposes the even more frightening unintended consequences of government actions in response. Molotch takes us from the recesses of public restrooms and subways to the workplace, the Katrina disaster, air travel, and the World Trade Center site. His remedies combine expertise with common sense and imagination. A must-read, this is the book for our time."--Diane Vaughan, author of The Challenger Launch Decision: Risky Technology, Culture, and Deviance at NASA

"Smart, savvy, and life-affirming, Against Security is the much-needed antidote to today's security regime--a regime that, despite its best efforts, succeeds mostly in making everyone's life worse. With his deeply-researched critique of what goes wrong, and his designer's eye for how things might be improved, Molotch has given us an instant sociological classic that is as enjoyable as it is essential."--David Garland, author of The Culture of Control and Peculiar Institution

"In this extremely important and beautifully written book, Molotch offers a highly original reflection on the current quest for security in the United States. His profound insights point out a plethora of expensive problems we have created for ourselves. He offers a solid list of alternative responses that might well avoid these kinds of devastating consequences."--Christina Nippert-Eng, Illinois Institute of Technology

Review:

"America's obsession with safety makes us angry, alienated, and ultimately less safe, argues this penetrating study of public security. Sociologist Molotch (Where Stuff Comes From) criticizes a range of security structures and protocols: airport security gates that require useless and humiliating body searches while generating long lines that make tempting targets for terrorists; ill-conceived New Orleans water projects that precipitated the Hurricane Katrina flood, and the militarized disaster response that further endangered residents; even gender-segregated public restrooms (co-ed restrooms, he contends, would be more convenient and safer for women). Molotch recommends simple hardware and procedural improvements, from better stairways and signage to assist evacuations to customer-service regimens that help employees spot trouble. More than that, he argues for a conceptual shift away from rigid, rule-bound 'command and control' toward a security philosophy that empowers ordinary people to handle crises through spontaneous order and mutual aid. Molotch shrewdly analyzes the ways in which anxious, stressed-out people interact with their physical and social environments in a lively, engaging prose that skewers the verities of the post-9/11 security state. The result is a far-reaching re-examination of our culture of public fear, one that stands conventional wisdom on its head. Photos. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Synopsis:

Remember when an unattended package was just that, an unattended package? Remember when the airport was a place that evoked magical possibilities, not the anxiety of a full-body scan? In the post-9/11 world, we have become focused on heightened security measures, but do you feel safer? Are you safer?

Against Security explains how our anxieties about public safety have translated into command-and-control procedures that annoy, intimidate, and are often counterproductive. Taking readers through varied ambiguously dangerous sites, the prominent urbanist and leading sociologist of the everyday, Harvey Molotch, argues that we can use our existing social relationships to make life safer and more humane. He begins by addressing the misguided strategy of eliminating public restrooms, which deprives us all of a basic resource and denies human dignity to those with no place else to go. Subway security instills fear through programs like "See Something, Say Something" and intrusive searches that have yielded nothing of value. At the airport, the security gate causes crowding and confusion, exhausting the valuable focus of TSA staff. Finally, Molotch shows how defensive sentiments have translated into the vacuous Freedom Tower at the World Trade Center site and massive error in New Orleans, both before and after Hurricane Katrina. Throughout, Molotch offers thoughtful ways of maintaining security that are not only strategic but improve the quality of life for everyone.

Against Security argues that with changed policies and attitudes, redesigned equipment, and an increased reliance on our human capacity to help one another, we can be safer and maintain the pleasure and dignity of our daily lives.

Synopsis:

Remember when an unattended package was just that, an unattended package? Remember when the airport was a place that evoked magical possibilities, not the anxiety of a full-body scan? In the post-9/11 world, we have become focused on heightened security measures, but do you feel safer? Are you safer?

Against Security explains how our anxieties about public safety have translated into command-and-control procedures that annoy, intimidate, and are often counterproductive. Taking readers through varied ambiguously dangerous sites, the prominent urbanist and leading sociologist of the everyday, Harvey Molotch, argues that we can use our existing social relationships to make life safer and more humane. He begins by addressing the misguided strategy of eliminating public restrooms, which deprives us all of a basic resource and denies human dignity to those with no place else to go. Subway security instills fear through programs like "See Something, Say Something" and intrusive searches that have yielded nothing of value. At the airport, the security gate causes crowding and confusion, exhausting the valuable focus of TSA staff. Finally, Molotch shows how defensive sentiments have translated into the vacuous Freedom Tower at the World Trade Center site and massive error in New Orleans, both before and after Hurricane Katrina. Throughout, Molotch offers thoughtful ways of maintaining security that are not only strategic but improve the quality of life for everyone.

Against Security argues that with changed policies and attitudes, redesigned equipment, and an increased reliance on our human capacity to help one another, we can be safer and maintain the pleasure and dignity of our daily lives.

About the Author

Harvey Molotch is professor of sociology and metropolitan studies at New York University. He is the author of Where Stuff Comes From: How Toasters, Toilets, Cars, Computers, and Many Other Things Come to Be As They Are.

Table of Contents

Preface ix

Acknowledgments xiii

Chapter 1

Introduction: Colors of Security 1

Chapter 2

Bare Life: Restroom Anxiety and the Urge for Control 22

Chapter 3

Below the Subway: Taking Care Day In and Day Out with Noah McClain 50

Chapter 4

Wrong-Way Flights: Pushing Humans Away

85

Chapter 5

Forting Up the Skyline: Rebuilding at Ground Zero 128

Chapter 6

Facing Katrina: Illusions of Levee and Compulsion to Build 154

Chapter 7

Conclusion: Radical Ambiguity and the Default to Decency 192

Notes 225

Index 251

Product Details

ISBN:
9780691155814
Author:
Molotch, Harvey
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Subject:
International Security
Subject:
Sociology
Subject:
Political Science and International Relations
Subject:
Politics-United States Foreign Policy
Subject:
Sociology-Violence in Society
Publication Date:
20120831
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Language:
English
Illustrations:
12 halftones. 1 line illus. 1 map.
Pages:
280
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Politics » Terrorism
History and Social Science » Politics » United States » Foreign Policy
History and Social Science » Sociology » General
History and Social Science » Sociology » Urban Studies » General
History and Social Science » Sociology » Violence in Society
Religion » Comparative Religion » General

Against Security: How We Go Wrong at Airports, Subways, and Other Sites of Ambiguous Danger New Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$50.25 In Stock
Product details 280 pages Princeton University Press - English 9780691155814 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "America's obsession with safety makes us angry, alienated, and ultimately less safe, argues this penetrating study of public security. Sociologist Molotch (Where Stuff Comes From) criticizes a range of security structures and protocols: airport security gates that require useless and humiliating body searches while generating long lines that make tempting targets for terrorists; ill-conceived New Orleans water projects that precipitated the Hurricane Katrina flood, and the militarized disaster response that further endangered residents; even gender-segregated public restrooms (co-ed restrooms, he contends, would be more convenient and safer for women). Molotch recommends simple hardware and procedural improvements, from better stairways and signage to assist evacuations to customer-service regimens that help employees spot trouble. More than that, he argues for a conceptual shift away from rigid, rule-bound 'command and control' toward a security philosophy that empowers ordinary people to handle crises through spontaneous order and mutual aid. Molotch shrewdly analyzes the ways in which anxious, stressed-out people interact with their physical and social environments in a lively, engaging prose that skewers the verities of the post-9/11 security state. The result is a far-reaching re-examination of our culture of public fear, one that stands conventional wisdom on its head. Photos. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Synopsis" by , Remember when an unattended package was just that, an unattended package? Remember when the airport was a place that evoked magical possibilities, not the anxiety of a full-body scan? In the post-9/11 world, we have become focused on heightened security measures, but do you feel safer? Are you safer?

Against Security explains how our anxieties about public safety have translated into command-and-control procedures that annoy, intimidate, and are often counterproductive. Taking readers through varied ambiguously dangerous sites, the prominent urbanist and leading sociologist of the everyday, Harvey Molotch, argues that we can use our existing social relationships to make life safer and more humane. He begins by addressing the misguided strategy of eliminating public restrooms, which deprives us all of a basic resource and denies human dignity to those with no place else to go. Subway security instills fear through programs like "See Something, Say Something" and intrusive searches that have yielded nothing of value. At the airport, the security gate causes crowding and confusion, exhausting the valuable focus of TSA staff. Finally, Molotch shows how defensive sentiments have translated into the vacuous Freedom Tower at the World Trade Center site and massive error in New Orleans, both before and after Hurricane Katrina. Throughout, Molotch offers thoughtful ways of maintaining security that are not only strategic but improve the quality of life for everyone.

Against Security argues that with changed policies and attitudes, redesigned equipment, and an increased reliance on our human capacity to help one another, we can be safer and maintain the pleasure and dignity of our daily lives.

"Synopsis" by ,

Remember when an unattended package was just that, an unattended package? Remember when the airport was a place that evoked magical possibilities, not the anxiety of a full-body scan? In the post-9/11 world, we have become focused on heightened security measures, but do you feel safer? Are you safer?

Against Security explains how our anxieties about public safety have translated into command-and-control procedures that annoy, intimidate, and are often counterproductive. Taking readers through varied ambiguously dangerous sites, the prominent urbanist and leading sociologist of the everyday, Harvey Molotch, argues that we can use our existing social relationships to make life safer and more humane. He begins by addressing the misguided strategy of eliminating public restrooms, which deprives us all of a basic resource and denies human dignity to those with no place else to go. Subway security instills fear through programs like "See Something, Say Something" and intrusive searches that have yielded nothing of value. At the airport, the security gate causes crowding and confusion, exhausting the valuable focus of TSA staff. Finally, Molotch shows how defensive sentiments have translated into the vacuous Freedom Tower at the World Trade Center site and massive error in New Orleans, both before and after Hurricane Katrina. Throughout, Molotch offers thoughtful ways of maintaining security that are not only strategic but improve the quality of life for everyone.

Against Security argues that with changed policies and attitudes, redesigned equipment, and an increased reliance on our human capacity to help one another, we can be safer and maintain the pleasure and dignity of our daily lives.

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