About the Book
Two million people fly commercially every day in the United States, and every single passenger must interact with members of airport security. Why do travelers put up with long lines and invasive screenings? Why do Transportation Security Administration officers (TSOs) put up with the disrespect and anger directed at them?
Shawna Malvini Redden asked these questions for years—interviewing passenger and security officers alike, taking note of everything from carry-on bananas to passengers who fumed when their water bottles were confiscated. Malvini Redden encountered a range of passengers: the entitled business travelers; the parents with toddlers; the hot mess, travels-once-a-year, can’t-figure-out-how-to-get-through-the-security-checkpoint-without-crying flier. The answers, Malvini Redden admitted, were far more complex than she anticipated.
101 Pat-Downs is the story of Malvini Redden’s research journey, part confessional, part investigative research, and part light-hearted social commentary. In it she illuminates common experiences in airport security checkpoints specifically focused on emotion and identity, presenting the inside scoop on airport security interactions via her experiences and those of passengers and TSOs.
Along the way Malvini Redden introduces common characters of airport security, humanizing the stereotypically gruff TSO and explaining in a social-science framework why so many passengers feel nervous inside TSA checkpoints. Ultimately, Malvini Redden shows how people navigate communication in complex interpersonal situations and offers research-driven suggestions for improving interactions for passengers and TSOs alike.
Shawna Malvini Redden is an associate professor of communication studies at California State University, Sacramento, specializing in organizational and interpersonal communication research and qualitative methods. Her research has appeared in Management Communication Quarterly, Journal of Applied Communication Research, Qualitative Health Research, and Departures in Critical Qualitative Research.
“As a road warrior myself, I appreciated Shawna Malvini Redden’s lively 101 Pat-Downs and its keen observations about our current form of security theatre and how people on either side of that power dynamic react to and evolve because of it. I appreciated Malvini Redden’s focus on the fact that we have rights when we fly, and we can take actions to protect and report violations of them.”—Elisa Camahort Page, coauthor of Road Map for Revolutionaries: Resistance, Activism, and Advocacy for All
“An exemplar of in-depth organizational research and a must-read for all frequent travelers, this book provides a behind-the-scenes picture of one of America’s most despised government agencies—the Transportation Security Administration.”—Sarah J. Tracy, author of Qualitative Research Methods: Collecting Evidence, Crafting Analysis, Communicating Impact
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
Introduction: Going Undercover in Airport Security
1. From the Golden Age of Flying to Security Theatre in Ninety Days Flat: How September 11, 2001, Changed Airport Security Forever
2. “My House, My Rules”: On Stereotypical Transportation Security Officers
3. Fear and Loathing in Airport Security: On Stereotypical Passengers
4. Is That a Salami in Your Purse? (Or Are You Happy to See Me?): On Contraband Confiscation
5. “One Shoe, Two Shoes, Red Shoes, Blue Shoes”: On Shoe Removal
6. No Crying over Stolen Shampoo: On Liquids and Gels
7. Naked Scanners Are for Perverts: On Advanced Imaging Technology
8. Meeting Resistance: On Enhanced Pat-Downs
9. Risk-Based Security: On Things That Are Good in Theory
10. Even Pilots Have Pat-Downs, Sometimes: Flight Crew Tales
11. On the Front Lines with “Screener Joe”: On Ideal Transportation Security Officers
12. Lemmings and Sheeple: On Ideal Passengers
13. Nice TSOs Finish Last: On Mindful Transportation Security Officers
14. The Traveling Unicorn: On Mindful Passengers
15. Traveling with Identity Baggage: How Security Challenges Intersecting Identities
Conclusion: What an Undercover Look at Airport Security Reveals about Communication, Emotion, and Identity
Appendix: Security Checkpoint Transportation Security Officer Stations/Positions and Descriptions