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Governing Through Risk: The Politics of Anticipation in the British Fire and Rescue Service

O'GRADY, NATHANIEL (2014) Governing Through Risk: The Politics of Anticipation in the British Fire and Rescue Service. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



This thesis examines practices of fire risk governance in the contemporary British Fire and Rescue Service (FRS). I trace the fundamental organisational and operational transformations the Fire and Rescue Service has undergone since the early twenty-first century. I argue that these transformations are structured around a new conceptualisation of fire as an event to be secured. Rather than understood and acted upon merely by its occurrence in the here and now, fire is known and governed in the contemporary as a risk of the future. Through a case study of one of its regional headquarters, I explore what I call the digital infrastructure of the FRS. This digital infrastructure encompasses the data, analytic technologies and organisational processes by which fire is rendered as a risk. In turn, I inquire into how the risk projections made by the digital infrastructure facilitate and condition what I call anticipatory modes of governance to manage fire. Forming the strategic architecture of the contemporary FRS, these modes of governance are deployed in the present but are directed at, and justified through, visions of fire risk in the future.
Through my case study, I describe overall the contemporary problematisation of fire risk governance. I call this problematisation governing through risk. I use the term governing through risk to express how risk identification has become the conditions of possibility for the Fire and Rescue Service in the present day. I show how risk identification works to organisationally shape the FRS and justify the existence of the service as a contemporary security apparatus. Furthermore, I argue that risk identification is used to mould and legitimate the forms of strategy used to govern fire risk and secure populations from fire.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Risk, Fire, Governance, Emergency Response, Foucault, Fire and Rescue
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Geography, Department of
Thesis Date:2014
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:02 May 2014 10:53

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