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Securing Circulation Through Mobility: Milieu and Emergency Response in the British Fire and Rescue Service

O'Grady, Nat


Nat O'Grady


© 2014 Taylor & Francis. Abstract: A growing body of literature draws upon Foucault’s security oeuvre in examining how societies are secured at the level of circulation. Although demonstrating the strength of Foucault’s contribution to debates about security and circulation, sustained attention has yet to be afforded to a central notion in Foucault’s work on security; the concept of milieu. Engaging in particular with Foucault’s 1977–1978 lectures at the Collėge de France collectively known in English as Security, Territory, Population (2007), this article introduces and critically appraises Foucault’s notion of milieu. I will show how the notion of milieu renders population an object of governance for security at the level of circulation. I draw upon Foucault’s commentary on the concept of milieu to explore empirical material generated by my own research into risk analysis technologies used by the British Fire and Rescue Service (FRS) to govern fire. Although my research demonstrates the crucial importance of Foucault’s milieu in examining how security is enacted on circulation, I also outline shortcomings in Foucault’s work. The case of risk analysis technologies in the FRS suggests that the conceptualisation of circulation which Foucault offers is overly crude. More nuanced understandings of circulation in relation to other modalities of movement are necessarily harnessed by the FRS in order to secure population through circulation. The differentiations made by risk analysis technologies between forms of movement, furthermore, are enrolled within and facilitate specific temporal imaginaries through which the FRS both makes sense of fire as a risk and intervenes before fires occur.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 10, 2014
Publication Date Jan 1, 2014
Deposit Date Sep 14, 2017
Journal Mobilities
Print ISSN 1745-0101
Electronic ISSN 1745-011X
Publisher Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 9
Issue 4
Pages 512-527
Keywords milieu, security, circulation, mobility, risk, Foucault
Public URL
Publisher URL
Contract Date Sep 14, 2017

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