More than a feeling? Selling and producing security

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


The increasing demand for security services did not only impact the private security service industry in quantitative terms but also forced qualitative changes with regard to employees’ qualifications. These changes are spurred by at least three main developments. Firstly, the use of technology is profoundly affecting ‘classic’ security work: IT-based tools, e.g. scanners in gate control, video cameras and screens, are controlling and are controlled by the workers. Secondly, the rise of public awareness regarding security guards is putting companies under increased legitimatory pressure. And last not least, thirdly, clients’ demand is changing. Rather than expecting security to ‘only patrol’ around, other tasks are routinely included in the requested services, ranging from controlling ongoing processes as for example incoming raw materials during the night shift, gathering and sharing information with the clients employees or the police, or coordinating other staff, e.g. cleaning personnel or janitors.
In a first step, I will show, how and to what extent the private security service industry has tried (and managed) to integrate ‘soft’ skills and ‘emotional intelligence’ in their human resource strategies. I will argue that the selling of security includes not only the process of selling a security concept, but also the selling of the employees’ workforce to a client. It is in this process, that each single security worker is being assessed and measured by its capacity to enact the clients need. It is in this process, that class, race and gender relations are re-produced.
In a second step, I will discuss my empirical findings on focussing on the requirements of the security workplace . I will show that security work understood as interactive service work is based on interactions between people, but it is at the same time mirroring socio-spatial relations inscribed in such interactions. My assumption is that the security workplace prescription regarding the presentation of self depends on emotional labour incorporated in the workers’ body and the workplace. It is in this perspective, that already existing socio-spatial arrangements play, as I will stress, an important roll with regard to the emotional skills that matter.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages24
Publication statusUnpublished - 2010
Event28th International Labour Process Conference - Rutgers University, New Jersey, USA, United States
Duration: 15 Mar 201017 Mar 2010


Conference28th International Labour Process Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityRutgers University, New Jersey, USA


  • security work
  • emotional labour
  • precarious workers
  • selling
  • producing
  • security

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