bouncers research

Night-Life Security Staff

Phie van Rompu

Scholars’ interest in venue security has not been age-old as research on this particular part of the night-time economy only emerged at the turn of the 21st century. Especially in Great-Britain, academics have directed their attention towards the field of working-class door supervisors due to the emergence of a post-industrial economically driven consumption night-life promoting transgression. Though violence being a general theme touched upon, most of the research has been written from two interconnected levels: the legal and the practical.

While the existing body of literature predominantly seeks to understand door-related issues from the viewpoint of particular individuals or specific groups of venue security in which some include aspects related to violent encounters in the vividness of these Dutch nocturnal cities, none have looked at these venue security teams from the perspective of situational interactions. Acknowledged by all scholars that the occupation of venue security is grounded in violence affecting the lives of these members, none clarify or touch on what impact group processes have on (de)escalation in antagonistic situations. This particular project aims to understand the specific group dynamics of professionalized security teams at Dutch night clubs that lead most often to de-escalation and sometimes to escalation. When, why and how antagonistic situations in a nocturnal hours unfold in violent escapades is what I try to understand from an embodied and emotional perspective.

So far, the story of their actual bodily skills related to (de)escalatory behavior and the impact of how they collectively give meaning to violence remains untold. This research takes the actual situations as primary unit of analysis and because of this aims to develop a research strategy that allows to capture the situational complexity of occurring processes of (de)escalation involving venue security teams and patrons. In order to do so, this research proposes two concepts that offer a theoretical framework that help to understand group dynamics leading to (de)escalation: mutual alignment and experiences of a moral community.

These concepts are established by drawing on the existing micro-sociological approach on emotional dynamics of violent confrontations, a subjectivist approach which looks at meanings attached to violence and the influence of (masculine) identity formation and a practice-based approach that takes social actions as embodied. How these group processes lead to (de)escalation of violence by the staff will be investigated by doing ethnographic fieldwork, semi-structured individual interviews and group interviews in which a variety of elicitation techniques (such as video and mapping elicitation) will be used.