Making Markets Responsible: Revisiting the State Monopoly on the Legitimate Use of Force

Anna Leander

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review

13 Downloads (Pure)


The normalization of commercial security epitomized by the disappearance of the term mercenary has gone so far that the main significance of the State Monopoly on the Legitimate use of Force (SMLF) has become one of obscuring the ongoing transformations towards ever-increasing commercial authority over the use of force, an authority enmeshing the public and the private with each other. This is my main argument. I make it an argument by suggesting first that the SMLF be treated as a practical category. I then proceed to show that as such SMLF has little practical pertinence for the governance of the use of force except as a reassuring, soothing background reference. I do this through an analysis of the argumentation through which a district court in Oslo defines appropriate security provision in a case where a Canadian aid worker demanded (and obtained) compensation for not having been well enough protected by his employer, the Norwegian Refugee Council (Dennis v. NRC). Borrowing Ghassan Hage’s terms and distinctions between anti- and alter-politics, I then suggest that the obscuring of commercial authority through the SMLF is undermining the anti-politics of contesting relations of domination in security politics, and in so doing it is also narrowing the scope for alter-politics of re-inventing security politics. I conclude that redirecting attention to the SMLF and the political work it does is therefore essential for coming to terms with the politics of commercial security.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Sociology of Privatized Security
EditorsOri Swed, Thomas Crosbie
Number of pages33
Place of PublicationCham
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Publication date2018
ISBN (Print)9783319982212, 9783030074685
ISBN (Electronic)9783319982229
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Altered political
  • Authority
  • Mercial terms
  • Commercial security
  • Norwegian refugee council

Cite this