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Emergency preparedness as public pedagogy: the absent–presence of race in ‘Preparing for Emergencies’

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Emergency preparedness can be considered to be a form of lifelong learning and public pedagogy with implications for race equality. The paper is based on an ESRC project ‘Preparedness pedagogies and race: an interdisciplinary approach’ considering the policy process around the construction of the ‘Preparing for Emergencies’ (PFE) campaign. This campaign which appeared as a leaflet (distributed to every household in the UK) and as a television campaign was a belated response to preparedness by the UK government post-9/11. The results in the paper are based on 20 interviews and two focus groups conducted in 2009–2010. Interviews were conducted with a previous home secretary, members of the cabinet office, private sector security consultants, civil servants and emergency planning committees. Using a Critical Race Theory (CRT) informed methodology we find that both for white and BME (Black and Minority Ethnic) respondents in our focus groups ‘race’ and racialised ascriptions are important to their interpretation of PFE. For white respondents PFE is seen to be most relevant in urban areas at risk of crime and terrorism whereas BME respondents considered that they were potentially pathologised by PFE as potential terrorists. In policy interviews we find that a series of signifiers around race are used to consider the need for responsibilisation within PFE. In conclusion we consider that examining preparedness through the lens of public pedagogy extends theoretical and empirical work on securitisation particularly in terms of considering the responses of various audiences. We also argue for further engagement with CRT in security, and more generally lifelong learning, research.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: University of East London, London, UK 2: Kingston University, London, UK

Publication date: 2011-12-01

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