Date of Completion


Degree Type

Honors Thesis - Campus Access


Political Science (POLS)

First Advisor

Andrew Dilts


Metal detectors have been used in public high schools across the country since the early 1990s. The existing literature on the presence of such metal detectors rests on the assumption that their goal is to contribute to a “safer” school environment. Those supporting their use argue that metal detectors reduce the presence of weapons and contraband at schools while those opposed to their use argue that they foster feelings of distrust between students and faculty, actually contributing to a less safe school environment. However, the assumption that their goal is to create a “safer” school environment must be challenged. Using the uneven implementation of metal detectors in the Chicago Public High Schools as a case study, I develop a theoretical framework using which we can interpret the implementation of metal detectors in schools, and school security more broadly, in a new way. Relying upon the theory of Michel Foucault and Iris Marion Young, I argue that metal detectors both serve as disciplinary mechanisms that produce docility rather than “safety” and that their implementation is the product of anti-democratic decision-making processes that create political boundaries both between schools and within them. By analyzing decision-making processes and disciplinary practices together, and not as distinct from one another, my framework will provide a more comprehensive understanding of metal detectors in schools than the existing literature.