This book explores how different publics make sense of and evaluate anti-terrorism powers within the UK, and the implications of this for citizenship and security. Since 9/11, the UK’s anti-terrorism framework has undergone dramatic changes, including with the introduction of numerous new pieces of legislation. Drawing on primary empirical research, this book examines the impact of these changes on security and citizenship, as perceived by citizens themselves. We examine such impacts on different communities within the UK, and find that generally, whilst white individuals were not unconcerned about the effects of anti-terrorism, ethnic minority citizens (and not Muslim communities alone) believe that anti-terrorism measures have had a direct, negative impact on various dimensions of their citizenship and security. This book thus offers the first systematic engagement with ‘vernacular’ or ‘everyday’ understandings of anti-terrorism policy, citizenship and security. Beyond an empirical analysis of citizen attitudes, it argues that while transformations in anti-terrorism frameworks impact on public experiences of security and citizenship, they do not do so in a uniform, homogeneous, or predictable manner. At the same time, public understandings and expectations of security and citizenship themselves shape how developments in anti-terrorism frameworks are discussed and evaluated. The relationships between these phenomenon, in other words, are both multiple and co-constitutive. By detailing these findings, this book adds depth and complexity to existing studies of the impact of anti-terrorism powers. The book will be of interest to a wide range of academic disciplines including Political Science, International Relations, Security Studies and Sociology.
Anti-terrorism powers and vernacular (in)securities
Lee Jarvis and Michael Lister
This chapter analyses the impact of anti-terrorism powers on public experiences of security within the UK. The chapter begins by reiterating the widespread public scepticism toward these powers identified in Chapter 3. A major factor within this scepticism, it argues, was the pervasive view that security has not been enhanced by recent initiatives in this area. Indeed, some individuals - primarily from ethnic minority communities - believed that their security has been directly diminished by the introduction of new anti-terrorism powers. To fully understand this scepticism, however, requires a deeper engagement with public understandings of security, and differences between these. To do this, the chapter begins by exploring public articulations of security threats before introducing six distinct ways that participants in this research discussed the concept of security. Here, security was linked to notions of survival, belonging, hospitality, equality, freedom and insecurity, respectively.
This chapter explores contemporary debate around security and citizenship, situating our understanding of each within these. It argues that both are, fundamentally, experiences rooted in everyday life, rather than abstract or formal statuses or conditions. The chapter concludes by discussing the methodology underpinning the book’s empirical research.
This chapter explores the impact of British anti-terrorism powers on experiences of citizenship within the United Kingdom. It argues that citizens from a range of ethnic minority backgrounds believe anti-terrorism measures have directly diminished their citizenship. This goes beyond simple infringements of rights, to include a retreat from political engagement, a declining sense of identification with British citizenship, and a lessening sense of obligations owed to the UK and one’s fellow citizens. This is in contrast to white individuals who, whilst not untroubled about the impact of these measures, generally viewed this as distanced from their everyday lives. This suggests that anti-terrorism measures may be contributing to a condition of “disconnected citizenship” in the UK. Some individuals enjoy greater confidence in their rights, appear relatively unaffected in terms of their participation and identity, and are content to take up particular duties. For others, in contrast, the perception of diminished rights and targeting by the state contributes to the limiting of political engagement and a declining sense of belonging. The chapter concludes by pointing to several important examples of resistance toward such powers and their impacts. This, it argues, speaks to an exercise of political agency even amongst those who believe themselves targeted by such measures, as well as to the continuing importance of citizenship itself.
Chapter Six continues the book’s discussion of the anti-terrorism/security/citizenship nexus. It argues that an individual’s underlying conception of security has implications for whether they are likely to believe anti-terrorism powers enhance security. Of greater significance, however, was that an individual’s conception of security strongly influenced the conceptual and linguistic terrain in which they discussed public policy in this area. Those who understood security in terms of social belonging, for example, were primarily interested in the impacts of anti-terrorism measures on community cohesion. This is in contrast to those who conceived of security as “survival”, who discussed anti-terrorism more in terms of effectiveness. Similarly, those who saw security as “freedom” focused on enhancements or reductions of civil liberties. The chapter therefore argues that security functions as a frame through which anti-terrorism powers are interpreted or read.
This chapter provides an overview of UK anti-terrorism policy. The chapter begins by tracing the historical evolution of contemporary anti-terrorism powers, before comparing the UK’s experience to that of other Western democracies. The chapter argues that the UK’s approach to anti-terrorism is distinctive because it is characterised by hasty, repetitive and continuous activity in which terrorism is approached as a distinct security problem of exceptional significance.
This chapter explores the different ways in which citizens evaluate anti-terrorism policy. Sources of hostility toward these powers include: concerns that they contribute to wider climates of fear; worries that they might drive the alienation of minority communities; questions about their effectiveness; doubts over whether they address the “root causes” of terrorism; suspicions that they are little more than a performative exercise in “security theatre”; civil liberties concerns; and, worries around their mis-use. Less sceptical stances our research uncovered included: relief or contentedness that the state is “doing something” to address the threat of terrorism; a perception that robust mechanisms are necessary given the nature of contemporary terrorism; a sense that sufficient safeguards are in place to prevent abuses of these powers; and ambiguity toward the capacity of “ordinary” citizens to evaluate such mechanisms.