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Abstract

Paradoxically, the greater the national security threats, the more important the role of local policy in the United States. In this article we examine homeland security initiatives—particularly the tension between risk and vulnerability—and the governance dilemmas they pose for local communities. In contrast to the usual emphasis on coordination and capacity, we argue for conceptualizing local imperatives attendant to homeland security as collective action problems requiring the construction of local performance regimes. Performance regimes must engage three challenges: (1) to enlist diverse stakeholders around a collective local security goal despite varying perceptions of its immediacy; (2) to persuade participants to sustain their involvement in the face of competing demands, and (3) to create a durable coalition around performance goals necessary for reducing local vulnerability. Using these analytic categories casts local homeland security issues in strategic terms; it also encourages comparisons of local governance arrangements to respond to risk and vulnerability.