John Manzo



On the Practices of Private Security Officers: Canadian Security Officers’ Reflections on Training and Legitimacy

Private security and private security officers are ubiquitous in the 21st century everywhere in the world, and as such, questions concerning our reliance on private security in public and private settings have become increasingly relevant. However, many of these questions are rooted in abstract concerns with legality, governance, and accountability and do not entail research that comprises the engagement of security officers themselves. Utilizing an ethno-methodological analytic perspective that highlights and prioritizes research subjects’ own perspectives, this article deploys open-ended, audio-taped interviews with 29 shopping mall-based security officers in major cities across Canada, and considers their reflections on their own legitimacy, in two respects. First, officers address their training; second, they discuss how they perceive their work to be “police-like.” Both topics concern precisely the omniscient complaints of the critics of the privatization of social control–that security is inadequately regulated and that it is formally unaccountable in comparison to public policing–but derive the perspectives of the security officers on these matters.

ethno-methodology, private security and private security officers, shopping malls

Citation: Social Justice Vol. 38, Nos. 1-2 (2011-12): 107-127.


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