G2014: The security legacy

Aitken, Adam (2017) G2014: The security legacy. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Printed Thesis Information: https://eleanor.lib.gla.ac.uk/record=b3285042


Mega-events such as the Olympics or Commonwealth Games are truly global events. Yet, the way in which these are utilised as a form of events led regeneration, gives these an increasingly local dimension; not only are Games taking place amidst the existing urban setting, but so too are their associate exceptional security features. Mega-events can also be considered representative of a new (in)security situation in which experts have been reactivated to operate on behalf of citizens; associations of invisible and omnipresent risks such as terrorism, have given executive authority to state agencies to define risks and develop responses, a situation which contradicts the last decades drive towards more community focused policing and empowerment.
The cumulative and contradictory situation is that as global risks and security have become more embedded at the local level, there is an increasing of social distance between security expert and lay citizens. In short, local residents who encounter security within the context of their everyday environment are stripped of any contextual basis on which to understand associated risks and make sense of the attentive security measures. This situation places a greater emphasis on how risk and security is symbolically 'communicated' between experts and citizens, and how aspects of reassurance and deterrence are balanced amidst this backdrop.

Existing literature in mega-events has tended to focus on security in a 'wide and shallow' sense: 'wide' in that they outline a whole range of security features and governance arrangements, but 'shallow' in the way that they do not take into account how these features are perceived at a deeper, local level. In this way, there is no real legacy to the security legacies. This thesis aims to address this issue by drawing on Glasgow's hosting of the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Qualitative interviews were used to gain the perspectives of both security experts from key stakeholder organisations responsible for delivering a safe and secure Games, and lay citizen’s perceptions and experiences of these arrangements.
Using a semiotic theoretical lens, which includes key concepts from the work of Giddens, Baudrillard, Eco and Goffman, the analysis considers 1) How particular security related narratives are 'framed' by experts during the mega-event and how these were understood by residents in relation to local contexts, biographies and experiences. 2) The totalising and globalising claims of late modernity and mediated forms of risk are identified in relation to local understandings of place. In particular, why it is that certain events or places, legitimise the use of exceptional security and continue to licence executive state authority. 3) The sending and receiving of different forms of security as 'control signals' is analysed in relation to how overt displays of security are experienced; how they influence one’s position of reassurance, safety and ontological (in)security, and how they may enhance or defray trust in the institutions responsible for providing security.

It is discovered that instances of miscommunication between state and citizen are rife, a situation exacerbated by the social distance created through existing governance arrangements and an overreliance on symbolic security. The thesis concludes by arguing that the governance of security at mega-events is not the best way of doing things and that the appropriation of issues of risk and security by experts creates new sources of insecurity among citizens. It calls for the enlisting of communities into the governance of security as a way of overcoming such limitations.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: mega-events, Glasgow Commonwealth Games, security, symbolic communication, control signals, semiotics, risk perception, ontological security, belonging.
Subjects: J Political Science > JC Political theory
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences
Supervisor's Name: Mackenzie, Professor Simon
Date of Award: 2017
Depositing User: Dr Adam Aitken
Unique ID: glathesis:2017-8423
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 29 Sep 2017 12:08
Last Modified: 17 Oct 2017 08:14
URI: https://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/8423

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