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Fear and the new home front

Domestic Fortress offers a critical analysis of the contemporary home and its close relationship to fear and security. It considers the important connection between the private home, political life and the economy that we term tessellated neoliberalism. The book considers the nucleus of the domestic home as part of a much larger archipelago frontline of homes and gated communities that appear as a new home front set against diverse sources of social anxiety. These range from questions of invasion (such as burglary or identity theft) to those of security (the home as a financial resource in retirement and as a place of refuge in an unpredictable world). A culture of fear has been responded to through increasingly emphatic retreats by homeowners into fortified dwellings, palatial houses, concealed bunker pads and gated developments. Many feature elaborate security measures; alarms, CCTV systems, motion-sensing lights and impregnable panic rooms. Domestic Fortress locates the anxieties driving these responses to the corporate and political manufacturing of fear, the triumph of neoliberal models of homeownership and related modes of social individualisation and risk that permeate society today. Domestic Fortress draws on perspectives and research from criminology, urban studies and sociology to offer a sense of the private home as a site of wavering anxiety and security, exclusion and warmth, alongside dreams of retreat and autonomy that mesh closely with the defining principles of neoliberal governance.

Even as the home is acknowledged to play a vital role in sheltering us from the elements so it has now come to be a locus around which many anxieties are shut-out. The home allows us to lock out the daily hardships of life, but is also a site from which we witness a wide range of troubling phenomena: the insecurities of the workplace, plans for our future welfare, internationalized terror, geo-political warfare, ecological catastrophes, feelings of loss and uncertainty around identity, to say nothing of the daily risks of flood, fire and other disasters.

The home now plays a complex dual role that slips between offering us protection from these worries while also offering the nightmare of its own possible invasion, erosion or destruction. On top of these concerns entire industries have been built that sell a war against strangers, dirt and disaster. This of course includes the insurance industry itself, but also the use of technologies that both protect the home and make it effectively more impregnable to casual social contact as well as the proliferation of products devoted to domestic cleanliness. Domestic Fortress considers the fantasies and realities of dangers to the contemporary home and its inhabitants and details the wide range of actions taken in the pursuit of total safety.

8 The fortress archipelago We have made a series of observations about the ways the home has become an increasingly defended site. Though we should recognise the variability of ‘forting-up’ at the level of the individual home in this chapter we offer what we see as an intuitive and evidence-based analysis that extends our suggestion that a range of economic, social, political and technological forces are re-shaping the experience of individualism and home ownership today. We can advance further the argument we have developed by drawing out these trends and

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9 Complexes of the domestic fortress The core of our argument has been that across architectural, technological, social, political and legal domains we can observe how it is that many private homes have become a kind of domestic fortress, designed in more or less overt ways to avoid social contact and to repel real or imagined potential intruders. While the fears upon which these changes have been built are not illusory, they have helped fashion mentalities and dominating built environments that speak of widespread attempts at escaping social contact and risk

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social paradoxes of our time – why do we witness the presence of anxiety and fear among many of the globe’s most affluent people, 2 Domestic fortress and how does this translate into a kind of urban life that offers both continuities and definite breaks with the built landscapes of even the recent past? Many commentators on our social condition have emphasized that fear has become a defining component or index of contemporary life and our project in this book builds upon these concerns to offer a consideration of how it is that unease is increasingly linked to the

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anything, these developments further emphasise the role of the home as a space of shelter and retreat from an uncertain world outside. Legal underpinnings Politicians have long understood and characterised property ownership as the foundation of a democratic, choice-based political economy and 28 Domestic fortress as the guarantee of a settled, law-abiding and responsible citizenry. Indeed, property ownership was once the qualification for enfranchisement; for nearly one hundred years after England’s Great Reform Act of 1832, mere tenants could not vote. Property

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, identify the home fundamentally as a tradeable asset that can be used to develop personal fortunes that enable reduced dependence on state and community supports. Seen in this way the home is, for many people, a methodology for achieving security and autonomy that is aligned with projects of statecraft and economic governance. It is the means, or the perceived means at least, by which the self and household hope to achieve a sense of security and independence. This 88 Domestic fortress 5.1  Steel gates and CCTV systems, London position, between the state and

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look back to the origins of urban development, we can trace the defensive qualities of many settlements, as well as their ceremonial and social aspects (Kostof, 1991; 108 Domestic fortress Kostof, 1992). Domestic homes through history have displayed variations of architectural motifs connected with castellation and defence, but we suggest that the contemporary home under tessellated neoliberalism manifests particular forms of physical deterrence. We know that burglary rates tend to be highest in Anglo-Saxon countries so it is not surprising to find higher

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element of our self-identity. Yet this possibility may also be unsettled by the realisation that anxiety and trauma can be 46 Domestic fortress generated from within the home itself (through domestic abuse, family violence, and so on) and such experiences are not at all rare. So this chapter considers the complex relationships between the hard, physical shell of our dwellings, the softness of its residing human tissue and the even more damage-prone nature of the psyches within us as accommodated individuals. Our shell Many commentators have argued that owning a home

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are experienced as incursions into their privacy, which is an expensive commodity. In the UK, these issues have been highlighted by the Countryside Rights of Way Act 2000 which gives members of the public access rights to moorland and parkland. In the USA this legislation was viewed as ‘a remarkable 68 Domestic fortress limitation on the right to exclude’ (Anderson, 2009: 246). A similar struggle was being played out at Billionaire’s Beach in Malibu, California. The law states that beaches are public property between the water and the high tide line, but the

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thief, shooting him in the back as he fled from his farm in Glenroy, Victoria. In 1999, under similar circumstances in the UK, a Norfolk farmer called Tony Martin shot at burglars as they ran away, killing one and seriously injuring the other. Two other significant cases in this chapter took place in gated communities; they were not about home invasion but about perceived threats to the security of an entire 134 Domestic fortress domestic complex. An Australian case from 1983 involved two residents of a courtyard development at Ascot Vale, Melbourne, Victoria

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