Command, Control and Contestation: negotiating and resisting security at the London 2012 Olympics
Pete Fussey, Reader in Sociology, University of Essex
Mega event security is often characterised as an exceptional exercise in terms of scale, scope and form and considered variously through macro-theoretical lenses citing the assertion of overarching disciplinary, neo-liberal, colonial corporatist and other interest-based aspirations. Based on empirical analysis conducted before and during the London 2012 Olympic security operation, this paper interrogates the complex, diverse and often fragmented contestations over space across the Olympic neighbourhood. Despite the professed unity of purpose among Olympic planners (such as the protection of sponsors’ access to the marketplace), more detailed analysis of aims and approaches of key players reveal both the application and purpose of ordering processes as contested and sometimes contradictory realms. Here, the longstanding recognition that space is used in simultaneously diverse ways is reflected in its control. Reflecting on post-Foucauldian theory different impositions of order - regulatory, exclusionary, disciplinary, suggestive and assuasive – are argued to exist simultaneously in the same broadly defined area. In turn, such processes provide a counterpoint to discourses that articulate the unifying features of the spectacle, particularly when it is staged in the complex terrain of the late modern global city.
Location: Room 517, Bartlett School of Planning, UCL Wates House, 22 Gordon Street, London WC1H 0QB.