Download your free copy here. Securitisation theory shows us that national security policy is not a natural given, but carefully designated by politicians and decision-makers. The narrowers were concerned with the security of the state and often focused on analysing the military and political stability between the United States and the Soviet Union. This expanded the security agenda by including concepts such as human security and regional security — together with ideas of culture and identity. Feminism had an important role in widening the agenda by challenging the idea that the sole provider of security was the state and that gender was irrelevant in the production of security.
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Download your free copy here. Securitisation theory shows us that national security policy is not a natural given, but carefully designated by politicians and decision-makers. The narrowers were concerned with the security of the state and often focused on analysing the military and political stability between the United States and the Soviet Union. This expanded the security agenda by including concepts such as human security and regional security — together with ideas of culture and identity.
Feminism had an important role in widening the agenda by challenging the idea that the sole provider of security was the state and that gender was irrelevant in the production of security. On the contrary, the state was often the cause of insecurities for women. It was an important development in the rise of a wider perspective on security.
Because some administer security while others receive security, security produces uneven power relations between people.
Viewed in this light, surveillance becomes a security apparatus of control and a source of insecurity. It is by questioning the essence of security in cases such as this that securitisation theory developed and widened the scope of security to include other referent objects beyond the state.
A referent object, a central idea in securitisation, is the thing that is threatened and needs to be protected. Securitisation theorists determined five sectors: the economic, the societal, the military, the political and the environmental sector.
In each sector, a specific threat is articulated as threatening a referent object. For example, in the societal sector, the referent object is identity, while the referent objects in the environmental sector are the ecosystem and endangered species.
It is only in the military sector that the referent object remains the state. This technique also highlights the contextual nature of security and threats. Suicide bomb attacks, for example, are a greater source of anxiety for some people today than they are for others.
Securitisation shows that it is incorrect to talk about issues such as terrorism as if they concern everyone around the world equally. By talking about referent objects we can ask: Security for whom? Security from what? And security by whom? Central to securitisation theory is showing the rhetorical structure of decision- makers when framing an issue and attempting to convince an audience to lift the issue above politics. Conceptualising securitisation as a speech act is important as it shows that words do not merely describe reality, but constitute reality, which in turn triggers certain responses.
Hence, threats are not just threats by nature, but are constructed as threats through language. In order to convince an audience to take extraordinary measures, the securitising actor must draw attention and often exaggerate the urgency and level of the threat, communicate a point of no return, i. An issue becomes securitised when an audience collectively agrees on the nature of the threat and supports taking extraordinary measures.
This has generated criticism from some scholars, who recommend understanding securitisation as a long process of ongoing social constructions and negotiation between various audiences and speakers.
Any security issue can be presented on a spectrum ranging from non-politicised the issue has not reached public debate to politicised the issue has raised public concerns and is on the agenda to securitised the issue has been framed as an existential threat. Security measures in the War on Terror, such as the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, the use of torture, the increased surveillance of citizens, extraordinary renditions and secretive drone strikes, illustrate the logic of exceptionality.
Had the War on Terror not been framed in a context in which a suspension of normal politics was permissible and necessary, these security measures would probably not have existed — nor would they have endured to the present day. After all, audiences are not complete dupes at the mercy of the securitising actor, and by making the process more transparent, securitisation theory endows the audience with agency and responsibility. In this context, the role of the security analyst moves from objectively analysing the threat to studying the processes by which securitising actors construct a shared understanding of what is collectively recognised as a threat.
The group has been presented as a threat to the security of the state, to the security of individuals in Western Europe and more broadly as a threat to the Western way of life.
This means that the securitisation of the Islamic State group affects at least three sectors: the societal, the military and the political. Hence, if the Islamic State group is securitised in European states, which are regarded as democratic, we should be seeing securitising moves from government officials — a rhetorical justification of why intervention, for instance, is the only way to remove the threat of the Islamic State.
It is important to note that securitising actors are not limited to politicians. Security professionals like the police, intelligence services, customs, immigration services, border guards and the military all play an important role in defining the security landscape.
Although disagreements and confrontation occur between security professionals, Bigo, Bonditti and Olsson , 75—78 argue that they are still guided by a set of common beliefs and practices.
Securitising actors take security threats objectively and seek to solve them by undertaking various missions. In addition, there are also functional actors who can influence the dynamic of the field of security but who do not have the power to move an issue above politics. Examples of functional actors can be the media, academia, non- governmental agencies and think tanks.
It can also include individuals themselves, by telling and sharing stories between friends, families and colleagues. For example, extreme claims made in tabloid newspapers across Europe create a narrative in which the Islamic State group is infiltrating society and working to bring on the demise of the democratic state.
Noticeable examples of securitising moves in the United Kingdom can be found during the House of Commons debate on the motion for British military action in Syria on 2 December The grammar of the security speech act is discernible. The speech points to the existentially threatening nature of the Islamic State group, a point of no return and a solution which breaks free of the normal democratic processes.
In the months after the Paris attacks, Hollande increased French military strikes in Syria and ordered a state of emergency that gave French security forces controversial domestic powers. Hence, we have a case of successful securitisation. It is important to note that when arguing that the Islamic State group is securitised, securitisation theorists do not challenge the existence of the group, or that the group has indeed coordinated attacks in Europe. Instead, securitisation questions the processes by which this group has come to be viewed as a threat and argues that by naming the group a threat, leaders of European states such as France and the United Kingdom are also implicated in the making of war.
Describing the threat of the Islamic State group is thus not impartial or objective, rather it is in an action in and of itself, and one that should be viewed as a political act. Using securitisation theory shows that the politics of terrorism and counterterrorism is about threat magnification and that the symbolic violence caused by attacks is out of proportion to the number of deaths it is responsible for.
For example, the number of victims in Western Europe was higher in the s and s as a result of groups such as the IRA than the number that can be attributed to Islamic terrorists in recent times. This threat magnification demonstrates the exceptionality of the threat, which, in turn, requires urgent and extraordinary responses.
Thinking of terrorism in this way is not only detrimental to the deliberative process but also limits our understanding of terrorism more generally.
Conclusion Securitisation is a useful tool for students in IR as it contests traditional approaches to security that are overly focused on the security of the state, rather than on other referent objects. Securitisation theory reminds us that securitisation is not a neutral act but a political one. From that starting point we are able to dig deeper and investigate the various insecurities that are found in international relations.
Find out more about this, and many other, International Relations theories with a range of multimedia resources compiled by E-IR. Full references for citations can be found in the PDF version, linked at the top of this page. More from E-International Relations.
BALZACQ SECURITIZATION THEORY PDF
Zulurg Although manipulation checks should ideally be used for every independent variable being manipulated in an experiment, this becomes especially important when varying emotional exposure. Specific areas in which experiments could help clarify securitization causal pathways and transcend findings arrived through case study work include asking the following: However, if securitization is meant to refer to any construction of threats, what then is left of its theoretical identity? Researchers should strive to work with samples that are as representative as possible of the broader general population of interest and conduct demographic checks to assess whether or not key demographic variables are distributed similarly across the sample of experimental participants and the broader population encompassed by the theory. As for the former, an experiment could, for example, study the effects of certain securitizing moves on the emotional polarization seckritization key constituent groups. Seen from this angle, the terrain to cover remains incredibly vast and potentially rich. Experiments are a useful tool to examine public reactions to elite discourses ,and as such, they could help understand balzzacq processes through which issues as varied as immigration, climate change, or theoy come to be perceived by the public as security threats and thereby moved outside the realm of regular politics in order to be dealt with through extraordinary measures. Account Options Sign in.
Securitization Theory: How Security Problems Emerge and Dissolve
Search Menu Abstract Securitization theory has developed into a fruitful research program on the construction of security threats. The theory has experienced growing sophistication, and empirical studies have produced stimulating insights on issues as varied as the politics of immigration, health, climate change, or cybersecurity. Understanding how social issues become perceived as threats seems timelier than ever given the rise in securitizing narratives in recent political elections across the globe. We propose that this research agenda would benefit from broadening its methodological diversity. They are also grateful to P. Van Arsdale for her helpful comments on earlier drafts and to A.