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Cover Security Studies: Critical Perspectives

18. Environment  

Madeleine Fagan

This chapter reflects on the implications of treating the environmental crisis as a security issue. It engages directly with the questions: Security for whom, where, and at whose expense? By exploring these questions, the chapter demonstrates how claims about the environment and security make visible, and securable, particular worlds while obscuring others, and rendering them insecure. It then considers three approaches to environment and security: early links between the environment and security which focused on how environmental issues impacted on the traditional concerns of security such as violent conflict, the state, and national security; the human security perspective; and the ecological security approach. Ultimately, we can see how attempts to secure the environment are connected to symbolic violence that generates other forms of political violence.

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13. Health  

Sara E. Davies

This chapter describes the increasingly prominent representation of health as a security issue. It begins by presenting the ‘origin’ story of health security that has led to the contemporary practices we see today in the WHO and UN Security Council. The chapter then looks at the different approaches to health security—namely, human security and national security—and considers why security is mobilized to respond to health issues. The focus here is on public health events and their location (regions and borders). The chapter also examines who the ‘peoples’ to be protected from the dangers of health security are. The COVID-19 pandemic reveals that despite a rapidly emerging global public health threat endangering everyone, with some more exposed to harm than others, the response was not equitable and reinforced existing hierarchies.

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17. Weapons-systems  

Mike Bourne

This chapter highlights weapons-systems as a central aspect of the question: ‘Security how?’ Weapons are a central and pervasive aspect of the material, institutional, and discursive mobilizations of security. As such, weapons have long been both a tool and a measure of power. Weapons-politics reveals what we might think of as lethal legitimations: the legitimation of killing, the preparation for killing, and the distinctions (racial, colonial, gendered, religious, class, civilizational) that allow us to take for granted that killing is inherent to security. The chapter poses three questions about security and violence that arise through weapons-politics: Does the manner of violence matter? How are weapons controlled? How is weapons-politics entangled with other forms of violence and security? These questions show that weapons-systems are the materialization of violence of all types.

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3. Orders, power, and hierarchies  

This chapter discusses what it means to adopt a critical perspective to analyse security. It highlights the fact that critical perspectives share a common concern with identifying and transforming forms of domination and oppression. To identify how security may be connected to domination and oppression requires uncovering the logics of the socio-political order in which a security mobilization takes place. The chapter then looks at the different ways that we can conceptualize power and how power can (re)produce hierarchies through identities, ideas, interests, institutions, and infrastructures. It also illustrates how forms of domination and oppression made possible by security mobilizations can be contested and resisted.

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12. Securing development; developing security?  

Maria Stern

This chapter addresses the politics of development and its relation to security. It highlights how the mobilization of security via development may aim to address forms of political violence but can also (re)produce them. The chapter specifically poses the questions: ‘Security for whom and from what?’ and ‘Security when and where?’ By posing these questions, it draws attention to how security is mobilized in the crafting and enactment of development policies, or security-development/peacebuilding initiatives, and the security logics that underpin them. This helps render visible the hierarchies these logics reproduce, the forms of violence they enable, and the forms of knowledge that they privilege.

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20. Prisons and camps  

Anna Schliehe

This chapter explores prisons and camps, and their inherent security logics and security practices from the global to the intimate. It begins by illustrating how the growth of prisons and camps is connected to state building and national and global dimensions of security. The chapter then considers how order and security are institutionally produced—that is, how these are intrinsically designed into spaces of incarceration. By exposing the visceral realities of encampment and incarceration, from the micro-practices to the macro-issues on a global scale, we can question security for whom and at whose expense. By asking these questions, we gain better insights into how a generated need for national and international security has led to unprecedented numbers of people who are incarcerated or displaced.

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Cover Contemporary Security Studies

18. Economic Security  

Gary M. Shiffman

This chapter provides an economic framework for analysing and countering organized violence. Looking closely at economics as a scientific approach to understanding human behaviour provides insight into the real-life of criminals, terrorists, and insurgents. Individuals make decisions under conditions of scarcity, and markets, firms, and entrepreneurs organize much of human behaviour. Understanding these dynamics can inform how policy-makers, analysts, and operators promote security.

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14. Property, extraction, and accumulation  

Caitlin Ryan

This chapter explores the political violence steeped in the relations between property, extraction, and accumulation by considering the questions: ‘Security for what purpose?’ and ‘Security at whose expense?’ Security is often related to property as a claim to the ‘right’ of states, companies, and individuals to have security of property. The purpose of security is thus assumed to ensure a right to maintain property, and in particular, to extract or accumulate value from it. In this sense, security is often mobilized to protect existing property rights and/or the security of some form of property itself. Through examples of plantations and mines, the chapter demonstrates how property shows how security is mobilized, and how capital has historically depended on the protection of ‘property rights’ not only through appeals to a ‘rule of law’ but also through violence.

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4. Political violence  

This chapter presents a conceptual framework that identifies different forms of violence, their relation to security, and their political dimensions. It focuses on four types of violence: physical, psychological, material, and symbolic. To determine the potential political dimensions of violence, the chapter explores actors, intentions, structures, and its presence within socio-political orders. Security seeks to address something that an authority has determined to be a threat or under threat. In this context, violence can be deemed political when it is legitimized and authorized from a security claim, as well as when it is an effect of a security mobilization that has emerged from a security claim. Two key questions then arise. Firstly, when is violence legitimate? Secondly, who has the authority to exercise violence legitimately within a given socio-political order? The chapter concludes that understanding how violence emerges from security mobilizations is important to understanding security.

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5. Critical questions  

This chapter outlines the nine different questions we can ask in relation to security: who can ‘speak’ security; security for whom; security where; security when; security from what; security how; security why; security for what purpose; and security at whose expense? Asking some of these questions help to determine the context within which security is being mobilized, while others enable us to precisely identify what security does within a given socio-political order. The chapter uses the global drug war as an illustrative case study. By asking the nine security questions about the global drug war, the chapter shows how illicit drugs have been used as a pretext to reproduce racism, violence, and structural inequalities. As such, the chapter concludes by restating the importance of not taking security thinking at face value.

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Cover Security Studies: Critical Perspectives

1. What is critique?  

This chapter introduces the notion of critique. At its simplest, to apply ‘critique’ means to question and ask questions about our world(s). This is because how we perceive our world(s) shapes what we identify as problems and why. This is what is also termed, problem framings. The chapter begins by outlining the main elements of critique: contingency, historicity, sociology, and a concern with transformation. It then presents the benefits of adopting a perspective that is critical of security. To understand the impacts of security within worlds and across them, it is important to look at security in relation to class, gender and sexuality, race and ethnicity, ideology and culture, religion, political belonging, and disability and/or their intersections. The chapter concludes by suggesting that the decision to mobilize security is always a political choice.

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10. Gender and sexuality  

Jennifer Hobbs and Laura McLeod

This chapter assesses the relevance of gender and sexuality for understanding how security/insecurity are distributed in the world. Our ideas about gender and sexuality—that men and women are the only genders, and that each gender has particular bodies, characteristics, and abilities—have been used for centuries to enact and justify the oppression of women and those who do not fit into this gender binary. As such, gender and sexuality form part of the unequal distribution of insecurity and violence we see in the world. The chapter looks at this topic bearing in mind specifically the following critical questions: security for whom, where, how, and at whose expense? To do so, it utilizes three key feminist concepts: intersectionality, the everyday, and transformation. The chapter argues that gender and sexuality help us gain a critical perspective of security/insecurity by revealing new areas of study, and helping us to see traditional security topics in a new light.

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11. Nationalism, racism, and xenophobia  

Philippe M. Frowd

This chapter analyses the security implications of nationalism, racism, and xenophobia. Nationalism can foreground common identity and social cohesion but also exclusion and rejection. Nationalism then constitutes and legitimizes hierarchies as racism and xenophobia do. While racism as personal prejudice is easy to identify and critique, racism as a bigger and more pervasive social system is more resilient and adaptive—it also has deep impacts on institutions that affect who is secure and who is not secure. Xenophobia is related to racism but centres more obviously on negative views of human differences, whether it is those with another citizenship, culture, or religion. The chapter then considers three themes: nationalism and its transnational facets in an era of resurgent populism; racism as a structure of global politics with impacts on insecurity at a range of levels; and finally citizenship and the risks posed to it—and rights more broadly—by xenophobia.

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16. Security and design  

Mark Lacy

This chapter illustrates how ideas of design and security become more complex and diverse in light of different states, actors, technologies, and security objectives in the twenty-first century. It looks at how two different groups of security professionals are responding to this complexity. In particular, the chapter shows how two very different approaches to security and design are engaging with complex problems of global politics in a moment that some argue is a time of radical technological and geopolitical change. The first is the work of ‘critical design’, which focuses on our understanding of security in the broadest sense—encompassing all aspects of life, society, technology, ecology, and policy. The second is the ‘military design’ movement, focusing on questions of war in the twenty-first century.

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2. Security  

This chapter addresses the question of ‘what security is’. It begins by exploring the history of security as a concept and practice emerging out of the long nineteenth century. The chapter shows security's inherent ties to colonialism and imperialism. It then suggests that security can be seen as an achievable threshold/goal whose progress can be measured, or as an ongoing process that is never complete. Either way, security is a form of political mobilization that acts upon our worlds through the prism of threats and risks, creating conditions of possibility and impossibility. The chapter concludes that the ubiquity of security demands that we ask how it defines our relations with others and with ourselves in shaping socio-political orders. To ask ‘what is security?’ is ultimately to answer the question, ‘what does security do?’.

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7. War and socio-political orders  

Victoria M. Basham

This chapter evaluates the relationship between war and society. The tendency to define war as fighting has led humanity to collectively condemn and attempt to curtail war horrors through international laws and regulatory practices. It is therefore easy to see why states around the world see preparing for war and waging it as vital to their security. The chapter focuses on three key questions: where is war? How is war possible? What (or who) does war secure? Asking these questions enables a deeper understanding of the choices that societies make about why, when, and where to fight and prepare for war; how the choices of actors and their actions make war possible; and the benefits and costs to people's security that wars can bring about. Indeed, such questions can help us to evaluate whether we should continue to prepare and wage war, and for what purposes.

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9. Identity and othering  

Melody Fonseca Santos

This chapter focuses on the relationship between identity, difference, and (in)security. Identities are dimensions of our lives we subjectively use to make sense of ourselves, our actions, and those of others in the worlds around us; they are ways that we instil a sense of belonging. Subjectively felt identities are also shaped by discourses, practices, debates, tensions, and conflicts about what they are for ‘us’ as a collective. The idea that this ‘us’ is being challenged and might change, or is in the process of changing, generates various anxieties. The chapter then introduces a set of concepts to analyse identity and othering in relation to security. It considers the concept of ‘predatory identities’ before presenting alternative identity practices that might decouple identity from notions of threat, while building upon difference and heterogeneity. This has been called deep relationality or cosmopraxis.

Book

Cover Contemporary Security Studies

Edited by Alan Collins

Contemporary Security Studies provides an introduction to Security Studies. It features a wide breadth and depth of coverage of the different theoretical approaches to the study of security and the ever-evolving range of issues that dominate the security agenda in the twenty-first century. In addition to covering a large range of topical security issues, from terrorism and inter-state armed conflict to cyber-security, health, and transnational crime, the sixth edition features an examination of popular culture and its implications for security, as well as coverage of the on-going COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout, readers are encouraged to question their own preconceptions and assumptions, and to use their own judgement to critically evaluate key approaches and ideas. To help them achieve this, each chapter is punctuated with helpful learning features including ‘key ideas’, ‘think points’ and case studies, demonstrating the real-world applications and implications of the theory.

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Cover Contemporary Security Studies

17. Environmental Security  

Geoff Dabelko

This chapter discusses the concept of environmental security. It explains the way environment and climate change have both broadened and deepened the issue of security. It describes the evolution of the concept as a merger of international environmental agreements, efforts to contest the meaning and practice of security, the proliferation of new security issues in the post-Cold War era, recognition that environmental and climate changes pose grave risks to human well-being, and the growing community of research practice that seeks to build peace through natural resource management. The chapter examines the different meanings of environmental security, and then explains four major categories of environmental security problems—namely, the way environmental change can be a factor in violent conflict, the way environmental change can be a risk to national security, the way war and preparation for war can damage the environment, and the way environmental change can be a risk to human security. It explains how environmental security can mean different things to different people and can apply to vastly different referent objects in ways that sometimes have very little to do with environmental change.

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Cover Contemporary Security Studies

1. Introduction: What is Security Studies?  

Alan Collins

This chapter provides an introduction to Security Studies, the sub-discipline of International Relations that deals with the study of security. War and the threat to use force are part of the security equation, but the prevalence of threats is far-reaching for Security Studies. They encompass dangers ranging from pandemic and environmental degradation to terrorism and inter-state armed conflict. The latter is actually a sub-field of Security Studies and is known as Strategic Studies. This edition examines differing approaches to the study of security, such as realism, liberalism, social constructivism, and postcolonialism. It also investigates the deepening and broadening of security to include military security, regime security, societal security, environmental security, and economic security. Finally, it discusses a range of traditional and non-traditional issues that have emerged on the security agenda, including weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, energy security, and health.