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Cover Contemporary Security Studies

16. Societal Security  

Paul Roe

This chapter explores the concept of societal security. It starts by looking at how society came to be conceived as a referent object of security in its own right. It then goes on to discuss the so-called Copenhagen School’s understanding of both society and societal identity, showing how societal security is tied most of all to the maintenance of ethno-national identities. In looking at threats to societal security, through examples, such as the former Yugoslavia and Northern Ireland, the chapter discusses a number of those means that can prevent or hinder the reproduction of collective identity, and, in turn, how societies may react to such perceived threats. The chapter concludes by considering some of the main critiques of the concept as an analytical tool.


Cover Introduction to International Relations: Theories and Approaches

7. Social Constructivism  

This chapter examines the social constructivist theory of IR. It first discusses the rise of social constructivism and why it has established itself as an important approach in IR. It then considers constructivism as social theory, and more specifically as both a meta-theory about the nature of the social world and as a set of substantial theories of IR. Several examples of constructivist IR theory are presented, followed by reflections on the strengths and weaknesses of the constructivist approach. The chapter proceeds by exploring constructivist theories of international relations, focusing on cultures of anarchy, norms of International Society, the power of international organizations, a constructivist approach to European cooperation, and domestic formation of identity and norms. The chapter concludes with an analysis of some of the major criticisms of constructivism and by emphasizing internal debates within constructivism.