Counting security in the vernacular: Quantification rhetoric in “everyday” (in)security discourse

Lee Jarvis

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1 Citation (Scopus)


Recent years have witnessed a “vernacular turn” in critical security scholarship centered on everyday constructions of (in)security. In this article, I advance this turn by arguing for greater attention to the role of numbers in non-elite discourse on (in)security. Doing so deepens understanding of the mechanisms and registers through which (in)securities are constructed in the vernacular while conceptually strengthening work on vernacular security through insight from literature on the rhetorical, sociological, and political functions of numbers. To pursue this claim, the article develops a new methodological framework through which to explore the work of numbers in vernacular security discourse before applying it to original focus group data on (counter-)radicalization. From this, I highlight the importance of numerical arguments in vernacular constructions of threat, evaluation of security policies, contestation of dominant security discourses, and performances of security literacy.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberolad013
JournalInternational Political Sociology
Issue number3
Early online date14 Aug 2023
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2023

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