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Conceptualising the smartphone as a security device: appropriations of embodied connectivity at the Black Lives Matter protests
Swedish Defence University, Department of Political Science and Law, Political Science Division.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-9676-9193
2022 (English)In: Critical Studies on Security, ISSN 2162-4887, E-ISSN 2162-4909, Vol. 10, no 2, p. 70-84Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article contributes to our understanding of security devices by engaging with the distinctiveness of one particular and especially important device: the smartphone. Drawing from Barad’s understanding of posthumanist performativity and turning to the smartphone literature outside of security studies, it develops a conceptual account of the smartphone as a security device. The article suggests that the smartphone stands out from other comparable devices because humans have come to embody its connective features. Using the Black Lives Matter protests in the summer of 2020 as an illustration, the article shows how the smartphone’s intra-action with users enable the crafting of new security practices through appropriations of embodied connectivity, especially when such appropriations are carried out on the streets. The police appropriated the smartphone to monitor social media activity and for geofencing, while the protesters appropriated it to obfuscate data and for livestreaming. By (re)locating the negotiation of competing security interests in the (extended) bodies of the protesters through the affordance of these practices, the smartphone contributed to the acceleration and intensification of a racialised spiral of surveillance and counter-surveillance.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2022. Vol. 10, no 2, p. 70-84
Keywords [en]
Smartphone, security devices, appropriation, protests, Black Lives Matter
National Category
Political Science
Research subject
Political Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:fhs:diva-11765DOI: 10.1080/21624887.2022.2128596OAI: oai:DiVA.org:fhs-11765DiVA, id: diva2:1792136
Available from: 2023-08-28 Created: 2023-08-28 Last updated: 2023-10-11Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Smartphone security: The smartphone as a security device and the public/private production of security
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Smartphone security: The smartphone as a security device and the public/private production of security
2023 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis examines the smartphone as a security device through a comprehensive summary and four independent papers. The thesis starts from the observation that a central and yet underexplored characteristic of contemporary security politics is that the smartphone, as one especially important piece of consumer technology, is increasingly being transformed into a security device. Given the smartphone’s close connection to the human body and self, and the device’s dominant influence across societal domains, it is crucial to account for how the device operates in security settings and with what consequences. Combining an ‘analytics of security devices’ with the theoretical concepts of materialisation, co-production and inscription taken from Science and Technology Studies (STS), the thesis’ papers address the problem of how to understand the implications of the smartphone’s operation as a security device by providing background on the commercialisation of intelligence and surveillance (paper I), and by offering three different conceptualisations of the smartphone as a security device (papers II, III and IV). The papers also explore and illustrate these conceptualisations through empirical analyses of the smartphone’s role in the Black Lives Matter protests (paper II), the United Kingdom’s Covid-19 track and trace programme (paper III), and President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky’s communication through selfie-videos (paper IV). These case studies examine three important security practices that are enabled by the smartphone – surveillance, resistance and communication – and therefore also highlight how the smartphone mediates relations between a multitude of security actors: states, tech companies, citizens, politicians and audiences. Through these studies, moreover, the thesis shows that the smartphone produces security by (re)locating the practice of security and the negotiation of competing security interests to the human body, and thus makes security dependent on consumerist behaviour. This is politically significant because it entails a redistribution of agency and authority in the security domain, both between humans and machines and between public and private sector actors, which challenges the limits of what a democratic politics can do and what it can mean. 

Abstract [sv]

Denna avhandling undersöker smarttelefonen som en säkerhetsapparat genom en kappa och fyra självständiga artiklar. Avhandlingen utgår ifrån att ett centralt men underutforskat kännetecken för samtida säkerhetspolitik är att smarttelefonen, som en särskilt viktig typ av konsumentteknologi, alltmer förvandlas till en säkerhetsapparat. Med tanke på smarttelefonens nära koppling till den mänskliga kroppen och jaget, samt apparatets dominerande inflytande över samhälleliga sfärer, så är det avgörande att redogöra för hur och med vilka konsekvenser enheten fungerar i säkerhetsdomänen. Genom att använda de teoretiska begreppen materialisering, samproduktion och inskription hämtade från Science and Technology Studies (STS), så behandlar avhandlingens artiklar problemet med hur man ska förstå implikationerna av smarttelefonens funktion som en säkerhetsapparat genom att ge en bakgrund till kommersialiseringen av underrättelse och övervakning (papper I), och genom att erbjuda tre olika konceptualiseringar av smarttelefonen som ett säkerhetsapparat (papper II, III och IV). Papperna utforskar och illustrerar även konceptualiseringarna genom empiriska analyser av smarttelefonens roll i Black Lives Matter-protesterna (papper II), Storbritanniens Covid-19 track and trace-program (papper III) och Zelenskys kommunikation genom selfie-videor (papper IV). Dessa tre fallstudier undersöker tre viktiga säkerhetspraktiker som möjliggörs av smarttelefonen – övervakning, motstånd och kommunikation – och belyser därmed också hur smarttelefonen förhandlar relationer mellan en mängd olika säkerhetsaktörer: stater, teknikföretag, medborgare, politiker och publiken. Genom dessa studier visar avhandlingen dessutom att smarttelefonen producerar säkerhet genom att (om)lokalisera säkerhetspraktiken och förhandlingen mellan konkurrerande säkerhetsintressen till människokroppen, och gör därmed säkerheten beroende av konsumentbeteende. Detta är politiskt betydelsefullt eftersom det innebär en omfördelning av agens och auktoritet inom säkerhetsdomänen, både mellan människor och maskiner och mellan offentliga och privata aktörer, vilket utmanar gränserna för vad en demokratisk politik kan göra och vad den kan innebära. 

 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Försvarshögskolan (FHS), 2023
Series
Swedish Defence University Thesis Series, ISSN 2004-6871 ; 2
Keywords
Smartphone, security devices, appropriation, public/private security, Critical Security Studies, Science and Technology Studies
National Category
Political Science
Research subject
Political Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:fhs:diva-11770 (URN)978-91-88975-29-4 (ISBN)
Public defence
2023-09-20, Sverigesalen, Drottning Kristinas väg 37, Stockholm, 14:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2023-08-30 Created: 2023-08-29 Last updated: 2024-01-08Bibliographically approved

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