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Nik Theodore, Nina Martin, and Ryan Hollon

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Securing the City: Emerging Markets in the Private Provision of Security Services in Chicago

The security services industry operates at the intersection of routine public safety concerns, threats to homeland security, changing labor markets, and the restructuring of urban economies. Private security companies that are contracted to patrol revitalized downtown districts, mass transit systems, and urban ‘high-crime areas’ are at the center of an unfolding transformation in how public spaces are secured. Increasingly, security companies have been able to broker contracts with the public sector to take on policing functions that formerly had been the domain of government law enforcement agencies. This article traces the re-territorialization of urban security provision that is underway in Chicago. Drawing on case studies of the public transit system and public housing developments, we consider the implications of advanced technology and privatized security personnel for how public spaces are policed.

private security services, mass transit, public housing, public space, surveillance, Chicago

Citation: Social Justice Vol. 33, No. 3 (2006): 85-100