Publication Date



In contemporary sociology, there has been significant interest in the idea of mobility, the decline of the nation state, the rise of flexible citizenship, and the porous quality of political boundaries. There is much talk of medicine without borders and sociology without borders. These social developments are obviously linked to the processes of globalization, leading some to argue that we need a `sociology beyond society' in order to account for these flows and global networks. In this article, I propose an alternative analysis. There are important developments involving the securitization of modern societies that create significant forms of immobility. One striking illustration is the increasing use of walls to quarantine or secure territories and communities against outsiders or to regulate the flow of migrants in Israel, in Europe and along the Mexican-US border. Modern societies are in particular characterized by a deep contradiction between the economic need for labour mobility and the state's political need to assert sovereignty. Gated societies, ghettoes, quarantine zones, prisons, camps and similar arrangements are in many respects pre-modern institutions of spatial regulation for political ends. Contemporary technical developments in biomedicine offer new opportunities for political control and spatial regulation in terms of forensic policing, bio-tattooing and bioprofiling. Globalization paradoxically produces significant forms of immobility for political regulation of persons alongside the mobility of goods and services.


Institute for Religion, Politics, and Society

Document Type

Journal Article

Access Rights

ERA Access

Access may be restricted.