Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2803

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Policing the In/Exclusion of Social Marginality: The Preventive Regulation of Public Space in Urban Switzerland

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Abstract:  Urban spaces are always contested and, as such, permeated by processes of inclusion and exclusion. Since the 2000s, new types of governmental public order services have been established in Switzerland specialized in dealing with socially marginalized individuals, groups, or areas. Without having police powers, they proceed with socio‐communicative methods typical in outreach social work. Based on our ethnographic research and drawing on Foucault‐inspired governmentality studies we elucidate the socio‐preventive risk management of two types of order services: While the welfare type aims to protect public spaces of attractive urban centers from social marginality, the neighborhood watch type is concerned with improving the coexistence of residents of marginalized housing developments. As the former wants to keep socio‐spatial in/exclusion of social marginality in motion and prevent its fixation in certain places, the latter works towards the inclusive socio‐spatial entrenchment of residents in segregated housing developments. Both dynamics—inclusion and exclusion—are closely intertwined and utilized for the governance of public spaces. The “inclusive city” should not be celebrated as a dull ideal and must be confronted with its own socio‐spatial mechanisms of exclusion.

Keywords:  governmentality; inclusive city; nudging; order service; policing; public space; social marginality; social work



© Esteban Piñeiro, Nathalie Pasche, Nora Locher. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.