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This book examines the self-representation and identity politics of Private Military and Security Companies (PMSCs).
Using a content analysis of the web pages of 40 transnational US-based and British companies, the book argues that in light of, on the one hand, an increasingly competitive industry and, on the other hand, a diverse range of public and private actors delivering security services, PMSCs ensure their survival not only through market shares, mergers or effectiveness, but also by appropriating different identities. First, they claim accepted forms of masculinities for themselves assuming the roles of ethical hero warriors. Second, they present themselves as conventional businesses selling services just like banks or insurance companies. Third, they increasingly exhibit a humanitarian identity. By asserting these multiple identities in an eclectic manner and sometimes even simultaneously, PMSCs, on the one hand, contribute to the normalization of private security setting standards as to what constitutes a legitimate PMSC to which more or less all companies strive to adhere. On the other hand, these identities also provide the basis for differentiation and hierarchy. At the same time as they enable PMSCs to speak to different audiences and attract different groups of clients, they help individual companies and the industry as a whole to establish themselves as new and superior security provider who can deliver the impossible. The book shows how the different identities that PMSCs appropriate relate to and interact with each other, and suggests that it is precisely the combined and variable use of them that makes PMSCs powerful.
This book will be of much interest to students of private military companies, critical security studies, military studies, security studies and IR.
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Jutta Joachim is Associate Professor of Political Science at the Leibniz University Hannover, Germany. Andrea Schneiker is Professor of Political Science at the University of Siegen, Germany, and is co-editor of Researching Non-state Actors in International Security (Routledge 2016).
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