Skip to main content

Maximum Security

The Culture of Violence in Inner-City Schools

Escalations in student violence continue throughout the nation, but inner-city schools are the hardest hit, with classrooms and corridors infected by the anger, aggression, and criminality endemic to street life. Technological surveillance, security personnel, and paramilitary control tactics to maintain order and safety are the common administrative response. Essential educational programs are routinely slashed from school budgets, even as the number of guards, cameras, and metal detectors continues to multiply.

Based on years of frontline experience in New York’s inner-city schools, Maximum Security demonstrates that such policing strategies are not only ineffectual, they divorce students and teachers from their ethical and behavioral responsibilities. Exploring the culture of violence from within, John Devine argues that the security system, with its uniformed officers and invasive high-tech surveillance, has assumed presumptive authority over students’ bodies and behavior, negating the traditional roles of teachers as guardians and agents of moral instruction. The teacher is reduced to an information bureaucrat, a purveyor of technical knowledge, while the student’s physical well-being and ethical actions are left to the suspect scrutiny of electronic devices and security specialists with no pedagogical mission, training, or interest. The result is not a security system at all, but an insidious institutional disengagement from the caring supervision of the student body.

With uncompromising honesty, Devine provides a powerful portrayal of an educational system in crisis and bold new insight into the malignant culture of school violence.

296 pages | xii., 280 p., 10 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 1996

Anthropology: Cultural and Social Anthropology

Education: Pre-School, Elementary and Secondary Education

Sociology: Social Institutions

Table of Contents

1: Schools or "Schools"? Competing Discourses on Violence
2: Tutors, Mentors, Ethnographers
3: Foucault, Security Guards, and Indocile Bodies
4: Teachers and the "Marshmallow Effect"
5: Pedagogical Theory and the Mind/Body Duality
6: Violence: The Latest Curricular Specialty
7: "Youth’s Youthfulness": An Alternate View
8: Remythologizing Inner-City Schooling
Epilogue: A Jesuitical Fantasy

Be the first to know

Get the latest updates on new releases, special offers, and media highlights when you subscribe to our email lists!

Sign up here for updates about the Press