Informal security nodes and force capital

James Martin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Nodal governance theory continues to have a significant impact upon contemporary understandings of the governance of security. Scholars such as Clifford Shearing and Benoit Dupont have used this theory to explain how various state and private sector security organisations interact and form networks of protection. However, security producing entities from the informal sector remain largely undefined. The purpose of this article is to address this theoretical gap and explore how informal security nodes (ISNs) operate in areas, and amongst populations, that are inadequately serviced by other, more formal security structures. Further developing the Bourdieuian metaphor of capital, this article will also introduce the concept of force capital and seek to explain its utility with regard to the operation of security nodes. Finally, a case study of ISN interaction in the South African informal settlement of Zandspruit will be presented and discussed with relevance to these novel theoretical developments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-163
Number of pages19
JournalPolicing and Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • force capital
  • informal security nodes
  • nodal governance
  • private security
  • vigilantism

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