Safety Work with an Ethnic Slant

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2803

Article | Open Access

Safety Work with an Ethnic Slant


  • David Wästerfors Department of Sociology, Lund University, Sweden
  • Veronika Burcar Department of Sociology, Lund University, Sweden


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Abstract:  Ethnic discrimination in the criminal justice system is a well-researched topic, but the significance of ethnicity in policing activities at more mundane levels has attracted less attention. This article analyzes ethnographic data on municipal ‘safety work’ in a Swedish city troubled with robberies, vandalism, and violence. It shows how the efforts of different safety workers, operating to curb crime and promote security, came to focus on the ‘soft’ policing of young men with various immigrant backgrounds. A set of street-level safety practices, performed within spatial demarcations, was found to represent a more-or-less silent orientation towards local minorities; a focus on non-Swedish ethnicities was embedded in the policing activity. This article points out the importance of implied ethnicities in the contemporary landscape of plural policing.

Keywords:  crime; ethnicity; media; plural policing; safety work; security; urban space

Published:   17 September 2014


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/si.v2i3.27


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