Passports: identity and airports
Passports: identity and airports

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2 Passports and the airport

Figure 3 Airport

By now you should have an idea of how different objects have been used for identification purposes and how passport regimes are operated. You should also have had a chance to see how passport regimes have impacted on the lives of some individuals. In this section, we will be looking at the one place where we all use a passport – at the airport.

Now watch the video below which looks at the airport and the use of the passport within it, then attempt Activity 2.

Download this video clip.Video player: A sociological analysis of the airport
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A sociological analysis of the airport
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Activity 2

The video analyses the airport using the concepts of:

  • Security
  • Conduct
  • Attachment.

In the boxes below, write some notes on how the video uses these concepts to analyse the airport. (You may wish to watch the video again.)

Security

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Discussion

  • Surveillance is essential for modern airports.
  • Airports constantly rehearse for emergencies.
  • Passengers are all treated as a potential threat.
  • The passport is central to controlling security via use of ‘gateways’ and ‘choke points’ (points of congestion, like boarding gates).

Conduct

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Discussion

  • Conduct at airports is closely monitored.
  • ‘Choke points’ and ‘sorting processes’ control the flow of planes, baggage, passengers and crew.
  • Internationally recognisable signs comprise an interface that manages conduct and movement.

Attachment

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Discussion

  • There are simultaneous processes of attachment and ‘un-attachment’.
  • There is sense of airports being ‘un-attached’ to geographic location.
  • They are also however pre-attached to the generic place of ‘the airport’ terminal.
  • Airports are built around different forms of attachment:
    • a.security technologies
    • b.pleasure
    • c.consumption.

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