""Molotch brings both wisdom and remarkable skills to this compelling book, including a prose style that is rich, lively, and a pleasure to read. With keen eye and gifted hand, as well as clear, hard data, he puts the subject ofAgainst Securityinto context and offers thoughtful and sensible solutions to the problems he draws our attention to.""--Kai T. Erikson, author ofA New Species of Trouble: Explorations in Disaster, Trauma, and Community ""In this extremely important and beautifully written book, Molotch offers a highly original reflection on the current quest for security in the United States. His profound insights point out a plethora of expensive problems we have created for ourselves. He offers a solid list of alternative responses that might well avoid these kinds of devastating consequences.""--Christina Nippert-Eng, Illinois Institute of Technology
America's obsession with safety makes us angry, alienated, and ultimately less safe, argues this penetrating study of public security. Sociologist Molotch (Where Stuff Comes From) criticizes a range of security structures and protocols: airport security gates that require useless and humiliating body searches while generating long lines that make tempting targets for terrorists; ill-conceived New Orleans water projects that precipitated the Hurricane Katrina flood, and the militarized disaster response that further endangered residents; even gender-segregated public restrooms (co-ed restrooms, he contends, would be more convenient and safer for women). Molotch recommends simple hardware and procedural improvements, from better stairways and signage to assist evacuations to customer-service regimens that help employees spot trouble. More than that, he argues for a conceptual shift away from rigid, rule-bound "command and control" toward a security philosophy that empowers ordinary people to handle crises through spontaneous order and mutual aid. Molotch shrewdly analyzes the ways in which anxious, stressed-out people interact with their physical and social environments in a lively, engaging prose that skewers the verities of the post-9/11 security state. The result is a far-reaching re-examination of our culture of public fear, one that stands conventional wisdom on its head. Photos. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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Princeton University Press
August 26, 2012
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