This introduction emphasizes the value of an anthropological lens within the research on private security. Although much scholarly work has been conducted on private security throughout the past decades, anthropological attention for this subject was somewhat delayed. Yet, the works that have emerged from this discipline through ethnographic fieldwork have provided new and different types of insights, namely bottom-up understandings that explore the daily practices and performances of security and the experiences of the security actors themselves, that other disciplines can unquestionably draw from. As the introductory piece of this section, it also familiarizes the four articles that constitute various “ethnographies of private security.”
Ethnographies of Private Security
Erella Grassiani and Tessa Diphoorn
Prisons, Sanctions, and Education
Examining two Israeli cases, this article addresses the highly controversial question about the privatization of state authority. The first concerns the Supreme Court decision that prohibits private prisons, a ruling that reflects the deep-rooted assumption that criminal punishment is a matter of state authority. The second case refers to the Israeli religious organization Takana Forum, which seeks to handle sexual offenses committed by authoritative figures within its community. The relation between privatization, privacy, and multiculturalism is presented as potentially perpetuating patriarchal authority in family life, education, and punishment. Following this discussion, different models of privatization based on the nature of the respective privatized authority are presented. The article concludes with an analysis of the conflict between communal and state law and its potential effect on Israel's collective co-existence.
The Private, the Public and the Political
This article investigates the connection between the phenomenon of moral conflict and the concepts of the private, the public and the political. In the first part of the article, as a way of locating my pluralistic position within the tradition of authors such as Isaiah Berlin and Steven Lukes, I develop a brief overview of modern meta-ethics and argue that monistic and relativistic explanations of morality are the cause of many of the antinomies that trouble human conduct. In the second part of the article, I make the central contention that moral pluralism is particularly useful in clarifying the concepts of the private, the public and the political as distinct domains of activity. I argue that we should treat moral conflict differently in each of these three domains and conclude that the moral significance and peculiarity of politics has been undeservedly underestimated in contemporary times.
Courtney Carothers and Catherine Chambers
This article draws on directed ethnographic research and a review of literature to explore how the commodification of fishing rights discursively and materially remakes human-marine relationships across diverse regions. It traces the history of dominant economic theories that promote the privatization of fishing access for maximizing potential pro ts. It describes more recent discursive trends that link the ecological health of the world's oceans and their fisheries to widespread privatization. Together, these economic and environmental discourses have enrolled a broad set of increasingly vocal and powerful privatization proponents. The article provides specific examples of how nature-society relationships among people, oceans, and sh are remade as privatization policies take root in fishery systems. We conclude with an overview of several strategies of resistance. Across the world there is evidence of alternative discourses, economic logics, and cultures of fishing resistant to privatization processes, the assumptions that underlie them, and the social transitions they often generate.
Very little research has been conducted on the functioning of the Israeli Parliament (the Knesset) in general and on private members' legislation in particular. This article contributes to the perception of the role of the legislator as political initiator in modern parliamentarism.
Reconfigurations of public and private
Rosie Read and Tatjana Thelen
State frameworks for welfare and social security have been subject to processes of privatization, decentralization, and neoliberal reform in many parts of the world. This article explores how these developments might be theorized using anthropological understandings of social security in combination with feminist perspectives on care. In its application to post-1989 socioeconomic transformation in the former socialist region, this perspective overcomes the conceptual inadequacies of the "state withdrawal" model. It also illuminates the nuanced ways in which public and private (as spaces, subjectivities, institutions, moralities, and practices) re-emerge and change in the socialist era as well as today, continually shaping the trajectories and outcomes of reforms to care and social security.
Decision making on state compensation
Annelie Sjölander-Lindqvist and Serena Cinque
According to Swedish environmental policy, harm to private property (mainly livestock, farm, and companion animals) caused by attacks from protected large carnivores is compensated by the state. In a case of suspected harm, a formal investigation process to assess the damage and its cause is initiated by the government. Inspections of damage on living private property are carried out by officials authorized by the regional County Administrative Board (CAB). By focusing on judgment in the making of property compensation decisions, this article demonstrates what occurs in frontline policy enactments, when the inspectors (as deliverers of political decisions) collapse organizational requirements and ideas with personal, yet socially and culturally framed commitments. It concludes that organizational decision making is neither fixed nor stable: organizations operate interactively, generating practices that enhance the agency and authority of particular actors in order to facilitate state policy implementation.
Complex intersections of the public and the private in the South Bohemian countryside
This article discusses notions of "public" and "private" in the postsocialist Czech Republic through a comparative examination of food practices in families and in the canteen of an agricultural cooperative in South Bohemia. Different meanings of public and private will be outlined, making up a complex set of referential contexts for the interaction between canteen personnel and customers. Analysis of daily life in the canteen revealed that the personnel tended to personalize customer relations. It is argued that this inclination cannot be explained first and foremost as the influence of market-oriented postsocialist public debates on public-private relations. The canteen is a key provider of services to the community but is not run according to market principles or driven by the logic of profit. Its friendly atmosphere is predicated on the moral practice and personal skills of its employees and is embedded in local cultures of food sharing. By exploring daily practice and interaction in the canteen, the article critically examines implications for the feminist concept of emotional labor that have emerged in studies on capitalist, profit-driven enterprises.
The New Zealand Firefighters' Struggle against Restructuring, Downsizing, and Privatizing
Loader concludes his analysis of the trend in Britain and elsewhere toward private security systems by suggesting that “the value of other more deliberative ways of addressing the crime question and structuring the relationship between the police and the ‘publics’ they serve; ways that seek to subject ‘consumer’ demands for particular kinds of policing and security to the test of public discourse oriented to the common good, and so temper with democratic reason the passions that consumer culture threatens to unleash” (1999: 389). The privatization of public services and the undermining of professionalism have taken hold in many countries on the advice of international monetary agencies. In New Zealand, a provincial reading of new right philosophy within the close-knit circle of the New Zealand Business Roundtable generated a power lobby group that served as a conduit for free market libertarian ideas. This article traces the response to these trends as a measure of the strength of civil society and public life in Auckland City, with a specific focus on the resistance by the New Zealand firefighters to restructuring and downsizing the fire service.
Evolving Principles of Social Responsibility in Israeli Private Law
This article describes an emerging trend in Israeli private law that strives to incorporate a culture of social responsibility into everyday life. Implemented through the legal principles of 'good faith' and 'public policy' in contracts, this applies mainly to the social responsibility of corporations. The adoption of such concepts in interpersonal relationships emphasizes that this approach aims to include all components of the legal system. The basic Israeli social and constitutional principles are analyzed, along with the role that individuals and business participants, not only government authorities, play in the structuring of a freedom-seeking society. The article concludes that this new trend also corresponds to the social discontent that was evident in Israel during the summer of 2011, as well as to a new way of thinking about the concept of capitalism in the business literature.