The New Parapolice: Risk Markets and Commodified Social Control


182 pages
Contains Photos, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-8020-8438-9
DDC 363.28'9'0601




H. Graham Rawlinson is a corporate lawyer with the international law
firm Torys in Toronto. He is co-author of The Canadian 100: The 100 Most
Influential Canadians of the 20th Century.


Professor Rigakos has written a valuable sociological study of the
burgeoning industry of private policing in Canada. Relying on a detailed
study of Intelligarde International, a leading Canadian private security
company, the author ably demonstrates that the private security industry
has moved well beyond its traditional role as a protector of private
property, and instead has become a sort of parallel force to public
policing, and, consequently, an important agent of social control.
Whether at shopping centres, upper-class residential districts, private
parking facilities, or public-housing projects, the commodification of
policing has vital social implications. Rigakos is careful to put his
findings into a theoretical context, relying on Marxian categories of
commodity and aesthetic production to explicitly critique Marxian
analysis for missing the fundamental reality of private security: at its
essence, it is a profit-making enterprise.

But Rigakos is not content merely to engage in remote theoretical
debates, and instead offers sound political judgments on a social
phenomenon that is radically altering the way that a state’s power
interacts with that state’s citizens. The legal framework for private
security, for example, is briefly sketched and appropriately described
by the author as “convoluted.” Increasingly, Rigakos finds that
private policing often operates under the real or implied authority of
public police—blurring the lines of legitimate authority and
fracturing traditional notions of public policing accountability.
Ultimately, he concludes that the much-discussed reform of public
policing must take into account private policing as well, or the reform
project is doomed to failure, and the largely unreflected-upon and
unchecked revolution in private social control will only continue. It is
this picture of the present and future of law enforcement and social
control that makes this book worthwhile, and leaves its readers feeling
profoundly insecure.


Rigakos, George S., “The New Parapolice: Risk Markets and Commodified Social Control,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed December 7, 2023,