Radicals and reactionaries : the polarisation of community and government in the name of public safety and security
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The contemporary threat of terrorism has changed the ways in which government and the public view the world. Unlike the existential threat from nation states in previous centuries, today, government and the public spend much of their effort looking for the inward threat. Brought about by high profile events such as 9/11, 7/7, and 3/11, and exacerbated by globalisation, hyper-connected social spheres, and the media, the threats from within are reinforced daily. In the UK, government has taken bold steps to foment public safety and public security but has also been criticised by some who argue that government actions have labelled Muslims as the ‘suspect other’. This thesis explores the counter-terrorism environment in London at the community/government interface, how the Metropolitan Police Service and London Fire Brigade deliver counter-terrorism policy, and how individuals and groups are reacting. It specifically explores the realities of the lived experience of those who make up London’s ‘suspect community’ and whether or not counter-terrorism policy can be linked to further marginalisation, radicalism, and extremism. By engaging with those that range from London’s Metropolitan Police Service’s Counterterrorism Command (SO15) to those that make up the radical fringe, an ethnographic portrait is developed. Through that ethnographic portrait the ‘ground truth’ and complexities of the lived experience are made clear and add significant contrast to the aseptic policy environment.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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