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This chapter examines key themes in the criticism levelled at strategic studies. It begins with a discussion of the relationship between strategic studies and its critics in the ‘Golden Age’, a period that saw the rise to prominence of a new breed of strategic thinker, the ‘civilian strategist’. These civilian strategists favoured the incorporation of game theory and systems analysis into the study of nuclear strategy and deterrence. After reviewing prominent critical appraisals of deterrence theory in the 1960s, the chapter explains how these critiques were subsequently addressed by strategic theorists. It then considers the emergence of a ‘third wave’ of strategists that engaged in a reconstructive critique of strategy before concluding with an analysis of recent critical approaches to strategic studies that have focused on its role in constructing a particular Western-centric vision of world order, the relationship between strategic theory and policymaking, and the language of strategic studies.

Chapter

This chapter reflects on the past and present of Security Studies, with a particular focus on the changing periods of theory production and practical problem solving. It begins by tracing the origins and institutional structure of Security Studies, noting that it started out as an American, think-tank based, interdisciplinary field and then became institutionalized as a part of a single discipline, International Relations (IR). Since the 1990s, the field has enjoyed a new period of high theory productivity, but largely in two separate clusters with the United States and Europe as centres of each. Among important developments during the so-called Golden Age of Security Studies were game theory and deterrence theory. The chapter proceeds by examining the stagnation of Security Studies before concluding with an assessment of future prospects and challenges facing the field, citing debates over issues such as human security and emerging non-Western approaches to IR.