'Flying the friendly skies: ' Why US commercial airline pilots want to carry guns

Amy Fraher*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    13 Citations (Scopus)


    Previous studies of social systems have shown that organizations develop mechanisms to defend against anxiety inherent in the system. This article uses field theory, systems psychodynamics and a participant observer methodology to examine certain defenses that became activated within a US commercial airline in the post-11 September 2001 period. In particular it analyzes forces affecting the event of arming pilots with handguns at work. This article's central claim is that pilots' desire to be armed resulted from a combination of external and internal pressures, personal valencies and work life changes.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)573-595
    Number of pages23
    JournalHuman Relations
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - May 2004


    • 11 September 2001
    • Applied group relations
    • Commercial airlines
    • Field theory
    • Participant observer methodology
    • Systems psychodynamics
    • Tavistock Institute

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
    • Social Sciences(all)
    • Strategy and Management
    • Management of Technology and Innovation


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