The politics of insecurity (POINS)

Project: Private Foundations

Project Details


Our traditional understanding of policymaking as largely driven by objective interests and rational calculation has been shaken by recent events. The Brexit vote and the 2016 US presidential election have made many realize that, if we want to be able to explain and ultimately predict political outcomes, we need to better understand emotions (see also Hochschild 2018). While this has been acknowledged in some areas such as elections (Redlawsk and Pierce 2017), policy studies and political economy have yet to systematically incorporate emotions into their theoretical repertoire.
POINS focuses on the consequences of the feeling of insecurity. The goal is to investigate how insecurity drives policymaking in the areas of welfare and crime control, the ‘left and right hand of the state’ (Wacquant 2010). Thanks to the biannual Tryghedsmåling survey (‘Security Measurement’), we know that even in Denmark feelings of insecurity have increased markedly since 2004 across social groups and a wide range of areas, including physical and economic security (Andersen et al. 2017). Similarly, the recent OECD Risks that Matter survey (2019) asked citizens in 21 countries about their biggest long-term worries: Financial security in old age came out on top, with a staggering 72 per cent of respondents across all countries listing it among their three biggest concerns. From these results, it is evident that subjective insecurity affects citizens well beyond the poor or those in precarious employment. By placing the case of Denmark in the European and OECD-context, POINS will identify the political consequences of this trend.
In times of widespread anxieties about social, economic and cultural change in Western societies (Inglehart and Norris 2017), we need to understand how politics channel and shape subjective insecurity either in an integrative or an exclusionary way. Now is the time to do this. After all, Denmark has in recent years witnessed a harsher approach to both law and order (Balvig 2005) and welfare (Greve 2016) which may have been a sign of a new politics of insecurity. To this end, this Core Group seeks to answer the following main research question: How is citizens’ subjective insecurity reflected in policymaking?
Effective start/end date01/01/202031/12/2022