The politics of political discourse: two rhetorics of public safety in the state of Paraná

This article presents and debates the discourse of "public safety" as it has been formulated and disseminated by the Secretariat of Public Safety for the State of Paraná. This discourse, an important part of public safety policy, is seen here as a perverse social control device. Our use of the adjective "perverse" makes reference to a type of social control that, instead of aiming at social welfare, invests simultaneously in a defensive rhetoric of human rights, exaltation of technical and scientific criteria for the "war against crime" and practical actions for a legal war on poverty. This strategy is part of a symbolic struggle with the overall effect of the criminalization of the Other - in this case, the poor. My hypothesis is that this discursive practice mobilizes two different doxas, directed toward different publics. I suggest that adherence to one or the other - the doxa of human rights, or of crime-fighting - is linked to a game whose rules are given by struggles in the political field. This process is not only part of mechanisms of State monopoly over the legitimate use of symbolic and physical force but also of political and electoral struggle of the State agents who formulate and pronounce these new discourses of public safety.

public safety; human rights; social control; perverse social control


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