Just Sociology

Analyzing the Social Dynamics of Drone Usage: The Role of Crime Control and Globalization

Drones have become increasingly popular in recent years, being used for a variety of purposes ranging from commercial photography and delivery services to military operations. However, the increased usage of drones has come with its set of consequences, one of which is the disruption of airport operations.

Due to the potential for drones to interfere with commercial aircraft, airports around the world have been forced to take drastic measures, grounding or delaying flights in the process. Furthermore, the investigation of these incidents raises questions about the sociological impact of drone usage and its implications for society, ranging from criminal activity to the ethics of privacy.

This article delves into the complexities of how drones are disrupting airports and the various theoretical frameworks that can be used to analyze the social dynamics at play.

Effects of drone sightings on flights

The increasing popularity of drones has raised serious concerns about their impact on commercial aviation. One of the most significant consequences of drones interfering with airport operations is the cancellation, disruption, and delays of flights.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the United States has reported a steady increase in the number of drone sightings near airports, which has led to increased operational restrictions in the airspace. In the UK, the Civil Aviation Authority has recorded a similar increase in reports of drones flying near airports, which has led to the restriction of airspace near major airports like Heathrow and Gatwick.

This has had a significant impact on the aviation industry, with delays causing financial losses for airlines, impacting business and tourism.

Investigation into drone pilots

Investigations into the usage of drones near airports have raised complex questions about the role of police and military authorities in investigating these incidents. In some cases, drone pilots have been identified, leading to civil or criminal charges being placed against them.

However, some drone pilots remain unidentified, making it difficult for authorities to take appropriate action. As a result, there have been calls for the military to intervene in order to mitigate the risks posed by drones interfering with commercial aviation.

The military has expressed their support for this, stating that they could use their training and equipment to track and intercept drones flying in restricted airspace.

Sociological analysis of drones over airports

Sociological perspectives can provide a valuable framework for analyzing the social dynamics at play in drone sightings near airports. One approach that is useful to consider is crime and deviance.

Deviance is defined as any behavior that violates social norms, while crime is deviant behavior that violates laws. The activity of flying drones near airports can be viewed as an act of deviant behavior that violates the rules and regulations governing airspace.

The identification of drones as a deviant subculture raises the question of the sociological impact of this subculture on society. Drone users are typically portrayed as a group of tech-savvy enthusiasts interested in capturing aerial footage.

However, this characterization ignores the possibility that some drone operators may be using their drones for criminal activity.

Newsworthiness of drone incidents

The increased use of drones and their potential to disrupt commercial aviation make them a significant newsworthy event. According to Galtung and Ruge’s news values theory, major disruption is one of the criteria used by the media when deciding what to report.

Drones falling into this category have the capacity to disrupt vital parts of transportation infrastructure, shutting down airports and causing massive economic losses. Furthermore, media coverage of drone incidents has led to public awareness and concern for the dangers they pose.

However, the overemphasis of drones in the media can also have implications for the public perception of drone usage. Subtopic 2.2 Durkheim’s functionalist theory of crime and social integration

Durkheim’s functionalist theory posits that deviance is necessary for social integration since it creates a sense of moral cohesion in society.

This theory is useful when analyzing the sociological impact of drone usage. One application of Durkheim’s theory is the consideration of the potential benefits of drone usage.

In commercial applications such as photography and delivery services, drones provide a solution to a range of problems from traffic management to the efficient transport of goods. From this perspective, drones can be seen to promote social integration by providing a valuable service to society.

However, the risks posed by drones must also be considered, and appropriate measures taken to mitigate their dangers.


In conclusion, the increasing use of drones has significant implications for society ranging from criminal activity to economic losses in aviation. The complex issues raised by the use of drones at airports can be viewed through different theoretical lenses, including sociological perspectives and theories of deviance and social integration.

While drones have potential benefits, they need to be used responsibly and within legal and ethical frameworks, allowing the benefits to be realized while minimizing their potential for harm.As drones become increasingly prevalent in society, new theoretical frameworks are needed to analyze the complex issues they raise. The previous sections explored the effects of drone usage on airport operations, the sociological impact of drones, and the news values associated with drones incidents.

This expansion will focus on interactionism, specifically on labelling and moral panic theory, as well as subcultural theory and neo-Marxism. In doing so, this article aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the social dynamics associated with drone usage.

Moral panic over public drone use versus government drone use

Moral panic is an interactive phenomenon that occurs when a particular social problem is identified and amplified by the media, leading to public concern and calls for government intervention. There has been a recent trend, in the US and the UK in particular, of public concerns surrounding drone usage promoting a moral panic, as the media reports on incidents of unregulated drone activity in residential areas.

These reports include images of drones flying over people’s homes or interfering with civilian aviation. They have generated a sense of public anxiety, leading to calls for stricter regulation of drone usage, with the potential of government intervention.

The overemphasis on the dangers of drones can result in a skewed understanding of their usage in society. The focus of the panic has shifted from private individuals using drones for their own needs to the possibility of governments using drones to monitor civilians or engage in combat in foreign countries.

In contrast with the moral panic surrounding public drone use, the notion of government drone usage for surveillance and warfare has received less media coverage and generated less public anxiety.

Police labelling of marginalised individuals

Labeling theory is based on the idea that people are in constant negotiation with their surroundings, meaning that they shape their identity and sense of self in response to social experiences. In certain cases, the police can label an individual as ‘deviant’.

This can have long-lasting and negative consequences on the individual’s life, even if they were not involved in any criminal activity. In the case of drone incidents, labeling can occur when individuals are stopped by the police for using a drone, and subsequently arrested or charged based on suspicions of criminal activity.

The labeling of marginalised individuals such as those from lower income communities or ethnic backgrounds can have more severe consequences, as they may experience more aggressive policing as a result of their marginalization. These individuals may be more vulnerable to negative labeling, which can have long-lasting repercussions on their future interactions with the police.

Possible motivations for drone incidents

Subcultural theory and neo-Marxism can be helpful frameworks to understand the motives behind the increasing number of drone incidents occurring around the world. One possible motivation for drone incidents is political acts of protest, such as environmental activism.

Drones are increasingly being used in activism, as they provide a novel way to capture images of protests from high up and offer greater flexibility in accessing otherwise inaccessible areas. However, drone usage in protests carries the risk of damage to private property and can be seen as a form of protest escalation, leading to increased police presence and charges of vandalism or public order offenses.

Another motive may be the marginalization of individuals within society, leading to feelings of disenchantment, ostracisation, and a desire for control. Individuals may feel that their use of drones, whether for leisure pursuits or otherwise, is a way to reclaim a sense of control over their lives, in contrast with what they perceive as a more intrusive, oppressive society.

Consequences of drone incidents

Drone incidents can have different consequences depending on the context in which they occur. Within leisure pursuits, such as drone racing, the consequences of drone incidents are typically minimal, as these are regulated, safe environments.

However, when incidents occur in public spaces or around sensitive locations, there is a risk of violence, damage to property, or potential injury. This can create uncertainty, leading to a lack of clarity around the legality of drone usage and the potential for criminal charges.

In commercial contexts, drones have the potential to offer consumers greater convenience and lower costs. However, incidents such as a drone flying near an airport can result in significant financial losses for airlines, leading to lengthy legal proceedings in some cases.


The use of theoretical frameworks, like interactionism, labelling, moral panic theory, and subcultural theory, can provide valuable insights into the social dynamics associated with drone usage. They can help us understand why people might choose to use drones in a particular context, the potential consequences of different sorts of drone incidents, and how we can think about the relationship between governments, the public, and drones.

With the increasing number of drones being used in a variety of contexts, it is essential to continue to refine and deepen our understanding of this new technology’s social dimensions.The previous sections of this article examined the various theoretical frameworks used to analyze drone usage’s social dynamics. This section examines crime control and globalization in the context of drone usage.

Specifically, it discusses the difficulties in implementing crime control measures associated with drone incidents and the possible impact of drone incidents on physical globalization as a result of drones interfering with airport operations.

Difficulties in implementing crime control measures

When a drone incident occurs, crime control measures can be taken to mitigate the risks posed by drones. One such measure involves the establishment of a perimeter around the area where the drone is detected, preventing the drone from entering a restricted area.

This strategy, however, has limitations since it depends on real-time drone detection capabilities, and it is difficult to detect a drone in a non-line-of-sight environment. Surveillance systems, such as cameras and sensors, are also useful for monitoring drone activity.

However, their effectiveness is limited to an extensive area since traditional surveillance systems are not designed for vertical coverage. Target hardening measures can also help reduce the risk of drone incidents by hardening buildings, such as airports and government facilities, against drone attacks.

For target hardening measures to be effective, it is necessary to identify the vulnerabilities that drones may exploit. Despite the various crime control measures available, their implementation is still restricted by technical and logistical limitations.

Additionally, the criminal use of drones is continuously evolving. As technology improves, criminals are finding new ways to exploit the technical weaknesses of drones, such as hacking the firmware or piloting the drone remotely.

These factors present a challenge for police and security forces to keep pace with advancing technology and effectively implement crime control measures for drone incidents.

Reversal of physical globalization due to drone incidents

The grounding of flights due to drone incidents has sparked discussions about the potential impact of drone incidents on the physical movement of people across borders. The movement of people across borders has become a key feature of globalization, fueled by the growth of air transport networks.

This has given rise to significant economic benefits, such as increased trade and tourism. However, drone incidents have highlighted the vulnerability of the aviation industry to drone attacks, resulting in the grounding of flights to protect public safety.

Drone interference with commercial air travel can potentially alter the patterns of holiday migration, leading to a reversal of physical globalization. This phenomenon is similar in ways to the restrictions placed on travel caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is yet to be seen if this is a long-term effect, as the technology in drone defense is becoming more advanced as well. Moreover, it is not just the impact on tourism and economic growth that drone incidents have caused.

Drones in conflict have been used to disrupt specific areas of globalization, such as the supply chains that have become a hallmark of the globalization process. For example, in Yemen, Houthi rebels have used drones to attack Saudi Arabian oil refineries, which have disrupted global oil supplies.

These examples illustrate the potential impact of drones on a global scale, highlighting the need to consider the links between drones, globalization, and international security.


The issues discussed in this section highlight the need to consider the wider implications of drones beyond their immediate application. Drone incidents can disrupt global trade and tourism, leading to broader geopolitical concerns.

Furthermore, the challenging nature of implementing effective crime control measures for drone incidents demonstrates the complexity of drone usage, a new technology that is rapidly evolving. It is crucial to continue to develop theoretical frameworks to analyze and understand the social and technological dynamics of drones, combining perspectives from the social sciences, technology and engineering, and policy studies.

In conclusion, the expanded article explores the complex social dynamics and theoretical frameworks surrounding drone usage, including interactionism, labelling, moral panic theory, subcultural theory, neo-Marxism, crime control, and globalization. These frameworks offer valuable insights into the motivations behind drone usage, the potential consequences of drone incidents, and the challenges and opportunities presented by this rapidly evolving technology.

As drone usage continues to grow, it is essential to develop a nuanced understanding of drones’ social and technological dimensions to ensure that we can use this technology safely and ethically. FAQs:

Q: What are some potential motivations for drone incidents?

A: Drone incidents may be driven by various motives, including political activism such as environmental causes and marginalization. Q: What are the consequences of drone incidents?

A: The consequences of drone incidents depend on the context, ranging from minor concerns within leisure pursuits to significant financial losses in commercial contexts or damage to private property in public spaces. Q: What are some difficulties in implementing crime control measures?

A: Implementing crime control measures presents technical and logistical challenges due to the evolving nature of drone technology’s criminal use. Q: What is the relationship between drone incidents and physical globalization?

A: Drone incidents that interfere with airport operations may reverse physical globalization by disrupting travel patterns and supply chains.

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