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Article

Edward Newman

Human security suggests that security policy and security analysis, if they are to be effective and legitimate, must focus on the individual as the referent and primary beneficiary. In broad terms, human security is “freedom from want” and “freedom from fear:” positive and negative rights as they relate to threats to core individual needs. Human security is normative; it argues that there is an ethical responsibility to (re)orient security around the individual in line with internationally recognized standards of human rights and governance. Much human security scholarship is therefore explicitly or implicitly underpinned by a solidarist commitment to moral obligation, and some are cosmopolitan in ethical orientation. However, there is no uncontested definition of, or approach to, human security, though theorists generally start with human security challenges to orthodox neorealist conceptions of international security. Nontraditional and critical security studies (which are distinct from human security scholarship) also challenges the neorealist orthodoxy as a starting point, although generally from a more sophisticated theoretical standpoint than found in the human security literature. Critical security studies can be conceived broadly to embrace a number of different nontraditional approaches which challenge conventional (military, state-centric) approaches to security studies and security policy. Human security has generally not been treated seriously within these academic security studies debates, and it has not contributed much either.

Article

Security studies in the United States is marred by a lack of status. Opportunities within American universities are limited by the fact that the work deals with war and the use of force. Another reason for the isolation of security studies is its inherent interdisciplinary nature. It is nearly impossible to separate military technology from security policy, and there is the constant requirement in doing security analysis to understand weapons and their operational effects. However, the most serious limitation of security studies is its narrowness. Nearly all of its ranks are international relations specialists concerned primarily with relationships among and between nation-states. Absent from serious analysis are international environmental, economic, and health issues that may precede and produce political upheaval and that have their own academic specialists. The collapse of the Soviet Union raised questions about the opportunities and dangers of the United States' globally dominant position. The efforts to specify America’s new grand strategy produced a variety of expressions which fall into four main categories. The first is Primacy. Its advocates are primarily the neo-conservatives who relished America’s post-Cold War global dominance and sought to thwart any attempts to challenge this dominance. The second strategy is usually labeled Liberal Interventionism, which is also based on the dominance of American military might and urges US intervention abroad. The third strategy is the Selective Engagement. Under this strategy the United States should intervene only where vital interests are at stake. The fourth strategy focused on Restraint.

Article

Barry Buzan and Lene Hansen

International security studies (ISS) has significantly evolved from its founding core of “golden age” strategic studies. From the onset of the Cold War in the late 1940s through to the 1970s, strategic studies virtually was ISS, and remains a very large part of it. The fact that it continues to stand as the “mainstream” attacked by widening/deepening approaches further speaks to its status as a “core.” This core consists of those literatures whose principal concern is external military threats to the state, and the whole agenda of the use of force which arises from that. This core was originally focused on nuclear weapons and the military-political rivalry between the US and the Soviet Union, but has since adapted its focus to changes in the salience and nature of military threats caused by the end of the Cold War and 9/11. It includes literatures on deterrence, arms racing, arms control and disarmament, grand strategy, wars (and “new wars”), the use of force, nuclear proliferation, military technology, and terrorism. Debates within ISS are structured, either implicitly or explicitly, by five questions: (1) which referent object to adopt, (2) whether to understand security as internally or externally driven, (3) whether to limit it to the military sector or to expand it, (4) what fundamental thinking about (international) politics to adopt, and (5) which epistemology and methodology to choose.

Article

Valerie Hudson, R. Charli Carpenter, and Mary Caprioli

It is not only gender ambiguity that is securitized in the international arena, but femininity as well. Some scholars argue that conflict over what women are and what they should do is characterized as a risk to national/global security. Meanwhile, there are those who would characterize gender as irrelevant to, or is one of many variables, in thinking about “security.” Feminist international relations (IR) scholars, however, have argued that gender is across all areas of international security, and that gender analysis is transformative of security studies. A redefinition of security in feminist terms that reveals gender as a factor at play can uncover uncomfortable truths about the reality of this world; how the “myth of protection” is a lie used to legitimize war; and how discourse in international politics is constructed of dichotomies and that their deconstruction could lead to benefits for the human race. Feminist work asserts that it is inadequate to define, analyze, or account for security without reference to gender subordination, particularly, the dichotomy of the domination/subordination concept of power. Gender subordination can be found in military training routines that refer to underperforming men as “girls,” or in the use of rape and forced impregnation as weapons of war. It is the traditional sense of “power as dominance” that leads to situations such as the security dilemma.

Article

Laura Sjoberg

Feminist Security Theorizing is in many ways what it sounds like—thinking about security in the global political arena through gender lenses. Since early work in feminist International Relations (IR), feminists have been exploring research questions about the ways that gender shapes and is shaped by war, conflict, and militarism. The field has developed to be labeled Feminist Security Studies (FSS). Debates about whether FSS is “feminist security” studies or feminist “security studies” have asked about the subfield’s focus—whether it is toward rethinking security in feminist ways or toward the mainstream field of security studies as such. With space in the field for both approaches, feminist security theorizing has looked at revealing the importance of gender in conceptualizing security, demonstrating that gender is key to understanding causes and predicting outcomes, and showing gender as a key part of solving security problems. FSS has several common theoretical commitments and concerns. These include a necessary commitment to intersectionality, a recognition of the importance of theorizing not only about gender but also about sexuality, a consciousness about framing, and an awareness of the politics of sociology of the academic disciplines in which it is situated. It is important to explore the past, present, and potential futures of feminist theorizing about security, concluding with an invitation to expand recognition of feminist work addressing security issues across an even wider variety of perspectives.

Article

International relations (IR) and security studies lack a coherent and developed body of inquiry on the issue of empire. The central focus of IR situates discussion of imperialism and hierarchy outside the core of the discipline, and on its fringes where scholars from other disciplines engage with IR and security studies literature. Similarly, security studies focus on major war between great powers, not “small wars” between the strong and the weak. The general neglect of empire and imperialism in IR and security studies can be attributed to Eurocentrism, of the unreflective assumption of the centrality of Europe and latterly the West in human affairs. In IR this often involves placing the great powers at the center of analysis, as the primary agents in determining the fate of peoples. Too easily occluded here are the myriad international relations of co-constitution, which together shape societies and polities in both the global North and South. In 1986, Michael Doyle published Empires, a thoughtful effort to systematize the historiography of empire and imperialism with social science concepts. It is rarely cited, much less discussed, in disciplinary literature. By contrast, the pair of articles he published in 1983 on Kant and the connection between liberalism and peace revived the democratic peace research program, which became a key pillar of the liberal challenge to realism in the 1990s and is widely debated. The reception of Doyle’s work is indicative of how imperialism can be present but really absent in IR and security studies.

Article

One can treat the terms “security studies” and “strategic studies” as synonymous and as pertaining to the study of the interaction of policy ends with military and other means under conditions of actual or potential conflict. This definition means that security/strategic studies can be a fairly broad field. Moreover, this broadness applies not only to the subject matter of the field, but to its time span as well. The study of strategy is arguably as old as war itself, and certainly far older than the formal establishment of strategic studies as an academic discipline in the aftermath of World War II. In this vein, one may well regard works like those of Thucydides and Clausewitz as belonging to the broad field of strategic/security studies. Although the study of war and strategy would often go hand in hand with military history, from very early times there have appeared treatises on strategy (actually on “the art of war”) that are clearly distinguished from historical treatises and thus from the very beginning set strategic/security studies on a clearly distinct track. Be that as it may, the historical approach to strategic/security studies has always been and still remains a very powerful analytical tool—provided it is handled with the necessary care. Beginning with Thucydides, and continuing with such luminaries as Vegetius, Clausewitz, Delbrück, and Corbett, the historical approach to strategic/security studies has provided the field with some of its most brilliant treatises. This venerable tradition continued after World War I and until well into the Cold War, including historically minded gems such as those by Fuller and Brodie. However, the advent of nuclear weapons and the consequent preoccupation of strategic/security studies with nuclear strategy led by and large to the loss of the field’s earlier historical bearings. Though never completely shelved, the historical approach was relatively subdued. It began to stage a comeback during the 1970s, aided by scholars like Howard, Luttwak, and Gray and further bolstered by the renewed interest in classical strategic theory. The end of the Cold War found the historical approach in terrific shape. Thus, not only does it once again tap the huge reservoir of ancient history, but it has also harnessed the newly available tools of quantitative research and the academic rigor of the social sciences. Since the end of the Cold War has definitely not brought about the end of history and the obsolescence of historical experience, it seems safe to conclude that the historical approach to strategic/security studies will fully retain its validity well into the 21st century.

Article

Critical theory in International Relations originated from the Marxist tradition which, during the mid- to late Cold War, formed the basis of dependency and world systems theory. In the years before and after the Cold War, critical theory became part of a larger post-positivist challenge to the discipline and to the development of critical security studies. At the heart of contestation within the broader arena of critical security is the concept of emancipation, developed by members of the Frankfurt School such as Theodor W. Adorno and Max Horkheimer. Several key debates have been at the center of critical security studies relating to the construction of threats, identity and difference, human security, and emancipation. In particular, critical security analysts have addressed the question of how, given the range of threats or risks that exist in the world, some threats come to have priority over others and become the focus of discourses of security. Also, some scholars have disputed the idea that identity is dependent on difference. The concept of human security shifts attention away from states to individuals, emphasizing human rights, safety from violence, and sustainable development. In the case of emancipation, critical theorists have expressed concern that the concept is too closely linked with modernity, meta-narratives, especially Marxism and liberalism, and the Enlightenment belief that humanity is progressing toward a more perfect future. What is needed is not to avoid emancipation per se, but to pay close attention to its underlying assumptions.

Article

Laura J. Shepherd

In challenging conventional conceptualizations of the human subject, the state, and the international system, early feminist security studies (FSS) offered new ways to think about security from inside and outside the disciplinary boundaries of international relations (IR). Indeed, FSS scholars illustrate that security not only means different things in different contexts but also functions in different ways to constitute particular social/political realities. Politicizing the everyday, or rather, demanding that the everyday be recognized as political, is a core assumption of FSS. Further contributions of early FSS to the replacement of the human subject in matters of security include a form of engagement with the very language used in speaking of security matters. Moreover, FSS scholars argue that insecurities permeate the very condition of human existence, bringing FSS insights to bear on economic processes, technological development, state building, and reconstruction. Ranging from analysis of violent conflict and political violence using a gendered framework to critiques of the policies and practices governing post-conflict reconstruction, and encompassing strong and vital interjections on debates over securitizing development, migration, health, human rights, and peace, FSS scholarship is accessible, innovative, and by no means limited to “women and war.” Relocating FSS scholarship from the margins to the center and listening to the voices of those human subjects erased from the academic study of security brings new challenges but also new opportunities for collaboration, with the sighting and citing of FSS by other critical scholars.

Article

Axel Heck

The term security has its origins in the Latin word securitas, which could be translated as “without care” or “without worries.” Security as a concept used in social sciences indicates a specific political condition or social constellation under which an individual, larger group, or state routinely exists without the worry of being physically harmed, attacked, or otherwise injured. In times of crisis, where civil wars threaten the stability and the security of whole regions, where terrorists aim to kill civilians and millions of refugees leave their homes searching for more secure places, it is no wonder that the concept of security has gained much attention and is debated in political and academic circles. Taking a closer look at the academic debates in political science and communication studies reveals different ontological understandings about what “security” is and a variety of epistemological approaches how to study it. While positivists take security as a fact and an objective condition that can be measured and clearly defined, critical approaches question that security is an objective or given fact. In critical security studies, security and especially insecurity are understood as social and discursive practices. If security and insecurity are not taken as objective facts, but as the result of social constructions, the question arises of how, and under which conditions, security and insecurity are socially constructed and who or what contributes to these discourses in a meaningful way. While the significance of language for the discursive construction of security is well researched in social sciences, the visual dimension of security discourses has caught particular attention in the last decade in political and communication studies. This has occurred because where, what, and how we see (media reports, pictures of catastrophes and war, street crime, violence, suspects, terrorists etc.) significantly shape our understanding of security and insecurity. Alternatively, or more precisely, security discourse is hard to imagine without reference to some sort of visual communication. Communication studies and political science (especially the subdiscipline critical security studies, or CSS) have focused on the nexus between visuality and security for many years now—but in interdisciplinary coexistence rather than in exchange. This article intends to bridge this gap between the disciplines by introducing theoretical concepts and paths in literature of both research traditions. In particular, the concept of visual securitization might be an interesting toehold, as it sheds light on the question of how visual communication (media images, television, films, and other media) contribute to the discursive construction of threats, dangers, and insecurities, thereby enabling extraordinary political measures (from public surveillance to so-called enhanced interrogation techniques and military interventions) to secure the endangered referent object.

Article

Poststructuralism is an International Relations (IR) theory that entered the domain of Security Studies during the Second Cold War. During this period, poststructuralists engaged with power, security, the militarization of the superpower relationship, and the dangers that the nuclear condition was believed to entail. Poststructuralism’s concern with power, structures, and the disciplining effects of knowledge seemed to resonate well with the main themes of classical realist Security Studies. At the same time, the discursive ontology and epistemology of poststructuralism set it apart not only from Strategic Studies, but from traditional peace researchers who insisted on “real world” material referents and objective conceptions of security. The unexpected end of the Cold War brought challenges as well as opportunities for poststructuralism. The most important challenge that arose was whether states needed enemies. The terrorist attacks of September 11 and “The War on Terror” also had a profound impact on poststructuralist discourse. First, poststructuralists held that “terrorism” and “terrorists” had no objective, material referent, but were signs that constituted a radical Other. They viewed the actions on September 11 as “terror,” “acts of war,” and “orchestrated,” rather than “accidents” committed by a few individuals. The construction of “terrorists” as “irrational” intersected with poststructuralist deconstructions of rational–irrational dichotomies that had also been central to Cold War discourse. These responses to “the War on Terror” demonstrated that poststructuralist theory still informs important work in Security Studies and that there are also crucial intersections between poststructuralism and other approaches in IR.

Article

Benjamin J. Muller

Governmentality and biopolitics has emerged as a chief source of scholarship and debate within contemporary international relations (IR), particularly among those involved in the sub-disciplines, Critical Security Studies and International Political Sociology. Governmentality, first and foremost, is a term coined by philosopher Michel Foucault, and refers to the way in which the state exercises control over, or governs, the body of its populace. Meanwhile, biopolitics, which was coined by Rudolf Kjellén, is an intersectional field between biology and politics. In contemporary US political science studies, usage of the term biopolitics is mostly divided between a poststructuralist group using the meaning assigned by Michel Foucault (denoting social and political power over life), and another group who uses it to denote studies relating biology and political science. The foci of literatures on governmentality and biopolitics are particularly agreeable to many scholars critical of traditional IR scholarship and its distinct articulation of “world politics.” The shifty nature of both concepts, as defined by Michel Foucault and the subsequent use by various scholars, presents challenges to setting any specific account of these terms; yet the blurriness of these concepts is what makes them productive, contrary to the zero-sum, rationalist accounts of power and behavior so central to much of conventional IR.

Article

Timothy W. Crawford

Intelligence cooperation (or liaison) refers to the sharing or exchange of politically useful secret information between states, which may also work together to produce or procure such information. There are many important connections between the key concerns of intelligence cooperation and the cooperation problems and solutions illuminated in mainstream traditions of international relations theory (realism, liberalism, and constructivism), and work on bureaucratic and organizational politics. These are captured in a descriptive typology that breaks down intelligence cooperation relationships into four classes, reflecting the number of states and quality of reciprocity involved. Those are transactional bilateral cooperation, relational bilateral cooperation, transactional multilateral cooperation, and relational multilateral cooperation. Across these categories, the most important concepts, conjectures, and conundrums of intelligence cooperation are found.

Article

Eric R. Kingson

Elizabeth Wickenden (1909–2001) was a social work administrator and advisor, policy writer, and advocate. In the 1950s, she launched an effective coalition of social welfare and labor organizations, known as the “Wicky Lobby.” A pioneering legal rights advocate, she advanced legal services and class action strategies on behalf of public assistance and child welfare clients.

Article

Multilevel governance (MLG) as a research approach has mostly been applied to explain governance issues surrounding the European Union or international organizations. As a general research framework in the area of international relations (IR) theory, however, MLG has widely been underutilized, despite the many advantages that the approach offers in the empirical investigation of an increasingly complex international or global system. There are key concepts, assumptions, and definitions of MLG that focus separately on levels and governance as key elements of the approach and its interdisciplinary lineage. Some contested IR concepts include sovereignty, the nation-state, the international system, anarchy, agency, and levels of analysis. These IR concepts benefit from the application of an MLG framework by enabling the use of an interdisciplinary and multimethodological, yet systematically comprehensive, approach—which allows for nuanced use of these concepts. Other areas that benefit from IR methodologies applied in MLG research are methodological toolkits with a special focus on the areas of global governance, security studies, and international political economy.

Article

There has been a pronounced dearth of scholarly literature on foreign and security policy in South Asia. Fortunately, there is a significant transformation under way. The amount of South Asian case materials that have been effectively integrated into the mainstream of the foreign and security policy literature is slowly expanding. Furthermore, the bulk of the scholarship on these subjects emanating from the region had been quintessentially devoid of theoretical substance. This, too, is undergoing a change. The neglect of South Asia is baffling considering that the region offers a rich array of cases pertaining to questions of comparative foreign policy, interstate conflicts, regional crises, and the effects of nuclear proliferation, among other issues. There are a variety of plausible reasons to explain the marginalization of South Asian foreign policy studies. One, at the level of the global system, the South Asian states (with the exception of Pakistan) sought to self-consciously exclude themselves from the tensions of the Cold War international order. Also, India was one of the principal exponents of the doctrine of nonalignment. After several decades of systematic neglect, however, there are signs that scholars are beginning to integrate the study of India and South Asia into the study of international relations, foreign policy, and strategic studies. This newfound scholarly interest in the South Asian region can be attributed to a host of actors, such as India’s remarkable economic growth of the past decade or so, Pakistan’s political fragility, and the acquisition of nuclear weapons by India and Pakistan.

Article

Kyle Beardsley, Patrick James, Jonathan Wilkenfeld, and Michael Brecher

Over the course of more than four decades the International Crisis Behavior (ICB) Project, a major and ongoing data-gathering enterprise in the social sciences, has compiled data that continues to be accessed heavily in scholarship on conflict processes. ICB holdings consist of full-length qualitative case studies, along with an expanding range of quantitative data sets. Founded in 1975, the ICB Project is among the most visible and influential within the discipline of International Relations (IR). A wide range of studies based either primarily or in part on the ICB’s concepts and data have accumulated and cover subjects that include the causes, processes, and consequences of crises. The breadth of ICB’s contribution has expanded over time to go beyond a purely state-centric approach to include crisis-related activities of transnational actors across a range of categories. ICB also offers depth through, for example, potential resolution of contemporary debates about mediation in crises on the basis of nuanced findings about long- versus short-term impact with regard to conflict resolution.

Article

Mattia Grandi

The lack of a settled definition for hydropolitics—a prismatic concept that acquires specific meanings according to both the disciplinary boundaries within which it is used and the theoretical perspectives of those employing it—is consistent with the disagreement over its nomenclature (hydro-politics vs. hydropolitics). The term has had many meanings and idiosyncratic usages over time, and there has been hardly any attempt to advance a clear definition for it. The strength of the concept of hydropolitics, its inter-disciplinary conceptual heterogeneity, is also its weakness. While the crystallization of some of the core features of hydropolitics in the literature—especially with regard to scale (namely, the focus on the inter-state level and the range of issues covered, that is, the politics of international water basins)—has anchored hydropolitics to “standard cases” of the concept, its theoretical underpinnings are still blurred. The study of hydropolitics has substantially delved into trans-boundary, not just any, waters. Yet, both the ontology and epistemology of the concept are debatable, so few eclectic definitions for hydropolitics have emerged. Hence, by addressing the relationships between knowledge, theory, and action of hydropolitics, the scientific community, in particular scholars of international relations, political geography, and critical geopolitics, has struggled for theoretical coherence as well as for conceptual clarity over the use of the term. This is not an easy task, though, because the fluid essence of hydropolitics escapes not only definition but also easy classification.