Miscellaneous (한 + EN)

The psychology of border control

2020-10-07 17:04
"A technical matrix was established. By definition there ought to be a way of solving any technical problem. Once this matrix was established, the spread of bio-power was assured, for there was nothing else to appeal to: any other standards could be shown to be abnormal or to present merely technical problems. We are promised normalization and happiness through science and law. When they fail, this only justifies the need for more of the same."

Dreyfus & Rabinow (1983), p. 196 (As cited in Amoore, 2006)

"... the need for the development of a new UK border doctrine is partly framed in terms of the acceleration of mobility arising from conditions of globalisation. The ‘exponential growth in global movement’ is presented as both a potentially good and bad phenomenon for the UK. On the one hand, it ‘brings great opportunity’, such as the contribution to gross domestic product of those working legally. On the other hand, it ‘creates new challenges’ including identity fraud, illegal immigration, organised crime and international terrorism. Therefore, this duality is said to necessitate an approach that balances economic prosperity with security imperatives: ‘The goal is to find the optimal relation between an appropriate degree of security, and the free flow of people and goods.’ In this way, security and prosperity are taken to be separate from the outset and the new UK border doctrine is tasked to keep out ‘risky’ subjects (potential fraudsters, illegal immigrants, criminals or terrorists) while simultaneously welcoming in profitable and trusted subjects (business people, tourists, ‘bona fide’ asylum seekers, legal economic migrants): ‘The aim of border control is to sort traffic into legitimate and non-legitimate and maximise the effort directed against movements that would, without action by the state, be detrimental to the UK, while minimising the burden on those that would not.’ Hence, rather than a barrier or obstacle in the physical sense, the concept of the border at work here is one that privileges permeability: a portal that depends upon – rather than prevents – the circulation of people, services, and goods."

— Vaughan-Williams, N. (2009). Border politics: The limits of sovereign power: The limits of sovereign power. Edinburgh, UK: Edinburgh University Press.

"... Border controls have politically important perceptual and symbolic effects that are too often ignored or taken for granted. To judge border policing strictly in terms of whether or not the instrumental goal of deterrence is attained partly misses the point. Policing CTAs is not only about deterrence; it is also about projecting an image of moral resolve and propping up the state's territorial legitimacy. Everyday border control activities—checking travel documents, inspecting cargo and luggage, patrolling coastlines and airports, apprehending unauthorized entrants—are part of what gives the state an image of authority and power. Statecraft is about power politics and deploying material resources, but it is also about perceptual politics and deploying symbolic resources. Border control agencies grow and expand partly because of the symbolic power they gain from their role as border maintainers in times of high societal insecurity. Thus, the policing face of the state is becoming more prominently displayed. Even as there is a pronounced erosion of the state's traditional economic and military border control roles, its law enforcement role not only persists, but continues to expand."

—Andreas, P. (2003). Redrawing the line: Borders and security in the twenty-first century. International Security, 28(2), 78-111. doi:


Two psychological consequences that border control may exert on the public:
  1. Distinction of ingroup-outgroup: Here, the in-group achieves the status of the legitimate (e.g., virtuous citizens without harming the state; passing through immigration procedures much easily; the sense of 'I am eligible to be a citizen here), whereas the outgroup gets labeled as the non-legitimate (e.g., criminals? drug dealers? refugees?)
  2. The feeling that the state is actually doing something: Something is being done to solve irregularities, problems, and uncertainties around us
    --> Possibly resonates with cultivation theory? Why are people's beliefs in the state power, legitimization of the status quo (or hierarchy/dominance structure), or beliefs in the immigrants-as-criminals myth correlated with watching crime news?
B&B in IR 시간에 읽었던 페이퍼들 중 가장 직관적으로 와닿은 리딩이 많았던 이번주. 지난주 읽은 Wendy Brown 책도 좋았는데. 이번주 할당된 페이퍼들은 거의 다 9/11, 혹은 유럽 내 급격한 난민 유입과 관련된 유럽 셍겐 조약이 논란이 되었을 때 쓰여진 글이었지만, 사실 지금 시대의 국경 문제와도 멀지 않은 문제의식을 공유하고 있다. 정치심리학을 공부하고 있어 다행이랄까.