Security Technologies

Authored by: Emmanuel-Pierre Guittet , Julien Jeandesboz

The Routledge Handbook of New Security Studies

Print publication date:  January  2010
Online publication date:  January  2010

Print ISBN: 9780415484374
eBook ISBN: 9780203859483
Adobe ISBN: 9781135166205


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This chapter deals with the issue of security technologies, and the relationship between security and technology. We start by examining how the question of technology has become a stake for contemporary security studies, discussing in particular the so-called ‘critical approaches’ to security (CASE Collective 2006). We suggest that while the uses and effects of technological systems are increasingly scrutinized by security studies scholars, little work has been done on the practice of technology itself with regard to security. In the process, seemingly crucial issues, such as the role played by the private (industrial and commercial) technological sector in contemporary security practices, are left unattended – whereas such issues have been convincingly addressed for a long time in criminology for instance. The second part of the chapter then provides an overview of some of the insights that have been elaborated by scholars of the history and sociology of technology: we argue that these offer pertinent elements for understanding the relationship between security and technology. Accordingly, the last part of the chapter discusses the question of security technologies in relation to the argument, made by some journalists and commentators (e.g. Hayes 2006; Mac Donald 2006; Mills 2004; O’Harrow 2005), that transformations in the contemporary (in)security doxa as well as in existing and anticipated technological systems are leading to the constitution of a ‘security-industrial complex’ on the model of the notion of ‘military-industrial complex’ hammered out during the Cold War to frame the relationship between governments, security agencies and the industries of defence.

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