A General Police System: Political Economy and Security in the Age of Enlightenment

A General Police System: Political Economy and Security in the Age of Enlightenment

While contemporary inquiries into theoretical linkages between political economy and security are rare, the exploration of these connections formed the cornerstone of political, social and economic philosophy during the upheavals of post-feudal Europe. “A General Police System”, a term borrowed from the late eighteenth century thinker Patrick Colquhoun, examines the overlapping genealogies of commerce, security, surveillance and the problem of poverty in the works of foundational English and Continental thinkers of the 17th to early 19th centuries. The authors thus revive the epic project of police and critically re-examine its drive to classify, regulate and control populations, providing a renewed materialist contribution toward a contemporary critique of security.

Book Details

Edited by: George S. Rigakos, John L. McMullan, Joshua Johnson & Gülden Ozcan
ISBN: 9780981280714
Year: 2009
Pages: 312
Price: $42.50 USD


“As well as offering a much needed resource book for the study of the historical importance of police science, the selections of texts combined with the Editorial Introduction will also be a valuable tool for thinking critically about the contemporary politics of police and security.”

Mark Neocleous, author of Critique of Security and The Fabrication of Social Order.


“…the authors are to be thanked and the collection is to be welcomed. The introduction is also a useful precis of the theories set out in the extensive readings and it provides stimulating ideas about how current debates might be said to echo those of the Enlightenment.”

Clive Emsley, author of The English Police: A Political and Social History and The Great British Bobby: A History of British policing from the 18th century to the present.

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