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

3.27 of 5 stars 3.27  ·  rating details  ·  26 ratings  ·  4 reviews

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 tr
Hardcover, 260 pages
Published August 26th 2012 by Princeton University Press
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As someone who travels enough to be firmly against current security protocols, I picked this book thinking it would be aid and comfort to all who find the "security theater" perpetrated by TSA to be frustrating, depressing, and ultimately useless (to say nothing of expensive for taxpayers). Perhaps those frustrations are better sated by "Ask the Pilot" and other insider blogs about airport security.
Instead, the author talks about the unintended consequences of government actions to respond to th
Molotch offers a fresh, provocative perspective, absent the diatribes we almost always hear whenever security is the topic. He successfully explains the problems with our current approach, starting with a foundation about the real trade-offs we need to understand. More security might, at best, mean more safety. It also means other type of risk can increase, as our very way of life is eroded in the process. I've read a number of commentaries with similar arguments, but none were this thoughtful.
Michael Berman
The author took an interesting topic (the rise of the "security" state, and the unquestioned primacy that security gets over other issues and turned it into a boring mess of a book. Some of the chapters (public bathrooms, hurricane preparation) deal with security in only the broadest sense, and not in a way that was at all interesting. Even the chapters on interesting, relevant topics were so full of sociological jargon as to be almost unreadable. Very disappointing.
This is an excellent example of a sociologist who can write well and puts his sociological imagination to work even while he waits in line at the airport or tries to understand the trouble with public bathrooms.

His argument is that if we trust most people to be mostly helpful, especially during crises we will design differently and likely end up with a more resilient material culture in the toughest times and a more pleasant set of surroundings the rest of the time. Bad things will still happen
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