This ethnography analyses the everyday policing practices of armed response officers in Durban, South Africa. Armed response officers are private security officers who patrol communities in vehicles and respond to distress calls from clients. This study considers their interactions with other actors, such as police officers and citizens, within “local security networks”. Based on twenty months of ethnographic fieldwork conducted between 2007 and 2010, this study argues that armed response officers perform twilight policing practices that emerge through interactions between state and non-state policing bodies. This study conceptualises policing as a performance of sovereignty, which is defined as a socially constructed source of power that is reproduced through daily practices and repetitious public performances and is based on both the threat and use of violence. Twilight policing is thus a performance of sovereign power that is the result of the imbrication of public and private sovereign bodies. In the course of the book, it is demonstrated that armed response officers undermine the state police by competing over authority and legitimacy, yet simultaneously strengthen understandings and representations of the state by mimicking the state and supplementing police officers through informal and formal partnerships. This study therefore challenges the frequently employed “state-failure” hypothesis, which holds that the global proliferation of non-state policing is evidence of failing or absent states. In contrast, I argue that relationships between different policing bodies are multifaceted, which gives rise to practices and processes that continuously cut across the intersections of state-non-state, legal-illegal, and formal-informal. Such practices are thus neither wholly public nor private, but something in between, something “twilight”. This study examines numerous processes, policies, and practices that generate the environment in which twilight policing performances occur, such as the historical linkages between state and non-state policing bodies, the occupational culture of the armed response sector, the individual personalities of armed response officers, the state regulation of the industry, and armed response officers’ daily interactions with police officers, clients, and citizens. Twilight policing is thus a “joint performance”, that is, a manifestation of the coming together of various local security networks. As the performers of twilight policing, armed response officers operate as “negotiators” between citizens’ expectations and the (perceived) shortcomings of the state. This role is closely related to the contesting discourses in contemporary South Africa concerning the “right” style of policing, particularly with regard to the use of violence. This study also shows that armed response officers act as “gatekeepers” of social and physical borders that are created by citizens, particularly due to the growth of “communities of security”. As “negotiators” and “gatekeepers”, armed response officers occupy a “dominated position” and perform under several panoptic gazes. Through an ethnographic exploration of a particular policing body, this research project analyses the complex relationships between policing, (in)security, violence, and authority. The concept of twilight policing sheds light on the type of policing practices performed in Durban, South Africa, but it also functions as a conceptual framework for analysing the numerous ways in which state and non-state policing practices are entangled, thereby moving beyond the public-private policing binary.
Good condition. Fore-edge stained, corners bumped.