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About this book

This major new text provides an accessible yet intellectually rigorous introduction to contemporary Security Studies. It focuses on eight fundamental debates relating to international security, integrating a wide range of empirical issues and theoretical approaches within its critical interrogation of these.

Table of Contents

Introduction

Abstract
This chapter introduces readers to some of the challenges involved in the study of security, and outlines the approach to these taken in this textbook. We begin by pointing out some of the paradoxes associated with security, noting that the term is used to describe ways of both protecting and taking life: of making us more and less safe. We then outline a series of fundamental challenges raised by this powerful, yet peculiar concept: including that it can be equally, and as easily, applied in relation to states (in discussions of national security) and individual people (in discussions of human security). The chapter then outlines two major ways in which this textbook differs from alternative introductions. The first is in taking a question-centred approach to security rather than one that focuses on theories or issues. The second is in linking debates around international security to broader controversies across the social sciences. The chapter finishes with a brief introduction to the major theoretical approaches to the study of security, before providing an overview of the remaining chapters.
Lee Jarvis, Jack Holland

Chapter 1. What is Security?

Abstract
This chapter introduces readers to the most debated question within research on security: what is security? The chapter begins by exploring narrow and broad understandings of this concept, and what these mean for the study of international politics. Here we contrast theorizations of security as survival with more expansive understandings, such as those based around emancipation. This helps us to think through what conditions — or needs — must be met in order to achieve security. A second section then asks whether security is a material ‘thing’, or something that is socially created in part through our language, ideas and identities. The chapter’s third section locates these debates around the definition of security both historically and politically. Our argument is that what security ‘is’ — or what it means to scholars and students, as well as to people and states — cannot be separated from the historical and political contexts in which security is being discussed. Particular attention is paid here to changes within Security Studies in the periods immediately following the end of the Cold War era and 9/11.
Lee Jarvis, Jack Holland

Chapter 2. What can we Know about Security?

Abstract
This chapter focuses on the question: what can be known about security and insecurity? It begins by introducing a range of different approaches to epistemology — different theories of knowledge — and their importance within discussion on security and global politics more widely. In particular we distinguish between positivist views of Security Studies as a scientific enterprise, on the one hand, and, on the other, post-positivist approaches which argue that knowledge of security can never be impartial, detached or unbiased. The chapter then focuses on two questions. First, whether ‘our’ knowledge of security is objective or subjective. Second, whether we can make universal claims about the experience of security and the conditions of insecurity that are suffered by others around the world. The chapter concludes by arguing that what we think can be known about security is vitally important for two reasons. First, because this shapes the type of knowledge we are able to produce and how we present it. Second, because our epistemological position will impact on the type of methods we are likely to use in security research: the focus of Chapter 3.
Lee Jarvis, Jack Holland

Chapter 3. How can we Study Security?

Abstract
This chapter focuses on methodology and methods within Security Studies. Building on the discussion of ontology and epistemology in Chapters 1 and 2 we explore a range of ways in which knowledge on security and insecurity can be created. These include mathematical methods such as regression analysis and formal modelling, as well as ‘qualitative’ techniques such as ethnography, discourse analysis and focus group research. The practice, value and limitations of these research methods are explored using concrete examples of recent work on security. The chapter argues that the contemporary growth of interest in methodology across Critical Security Studies is to be welcomed for a number of reasons. Uppermost amongst these is that thinking carefully about how knowledge of security is generated improves the quality of security research, at the same time as it strengthens a researcher’s ability to engage critically with designations of threat, risk and insecurity of the sort explored in Chapters 5 and 6.
Lee Jarvis, Jack Holland

Chapter 4. Security for Whom or for What?

Abstract
This chapter introduces debates over the referent object of security, asking to whom or to what are we referring when we speak about security? It begins by focusing on the state which has long been viewed as the dominant referent within the disciplines of Security Studies and International Relations. After exploring the reasons for this dominance, we introduce a number of its limitations. Here, we: outline the heterogeneity of states; question the importance of agency for security’s referent; and destabilize the hyphen in ‘nation-state’. The chapter’s second section then introduces the state’s major contender in these debates: the individual human. The benefits of a ‘human security’ approach are outlined with reference to debates on emancipation, gender and everyday life, before outlining some of the criticisms such understandings of security face. These include the potential for state co-option of ‘human security’ discourses, and the limited utility of these discourses for policy impact. Third, the chapter considers alternative referents, beyond states and people, evident within discussions of ‘societal security’ and ‘ecological security’. The chapter concludes by arguing that designations of threat and insecurity are central to the production and reproduction of all of these referent objects. The ‘whom’ or ‘what’ of this chapter’s title is actively created in security practices and discourse, rather than pre-existing these.
Lee Jarvis, Jack Holland

Chapter 5. Security from Whom or from What? The Changing Nature of War

Abstract
This chapter considers a particular, but very prominent, security issue within the Security Studies literature: military violence. It begins by reflecting on the nature of warfare as a form of organized violence, exploring the psychological, social, political and international factors that help explain inter-state war, as well as war’s human, economic, domestic and international consequences. These arguments are made with reference to issues of structure and agency and illustrated through the case studies of World War II and the post-2003 conflict in Iraq. The chapter’s second section then investigates the changing nature of warfare, considering in turn: the likelihood and potential obsolescence of major war; the changing geography of war; new practices and types of warfare; and the privatization of contemporary war. Examples explored in this discussion include the continuing conflict in Uganda and the 1990–91 Gulf War. The chapter’s third section turns to the role of weapons in the international system, introducing: debates over nuclear weapons in the Cold War and contemporary eras; concerns over other forms of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD); and the use of small arms globally. The chapter’s fourth section offers a study of international terrorism, sketching the use of this tactic by a diverse range of groups - including states — the scale of the terrorist threat, and the consequences of different counter-terrorism strategies. The chapter concludes by returning to broader questions about the purposes of Security Studies in view of the changing nature of war. Returning to the complexity/parsimony debate, we contrast claims that a narrow focus on military force introduces coherence and focus into this subdiscipline, with more expansive readings of Security Studies that emphasize the important role played by alternative forms of violence such as those considered in Chapter 6.
Lee Jarvis, Jack Holland

Chapter 6. Security from Whom or from What? New Security Challenges

Abstract
This chapter builds on and extends the discussion of security threats introduced in Chapter 5. Following a brief introduction, it begins by encouraging readers to think more carefully about the nature and meaning of violence. This emphasizes the importance of Peace Studies debates of the 1960s and 1970s in helping scholars and activists move beyond a restrictive focus on direct, observable, somatic forms of harm. Accounts of structural and cultural violence are introduced here, alongside a discussion of the potential of these concepts to shed light on social practices that are frequently more pervasive and harmful than the militaristic security threats explored in Chapter 5. The chapter’s second section then introduces a range of contemporary non-military security threats and their consequences, including climate change, famine, poverty and organized crime. Feminist discussions of gendered violence are also explored in this section to illustrate the particularity of certain security challenges. The chapter’s final section then ties the range of issues explored in Chapters 5 and 6 to debates over the measurement of threat. Here, we point, first, to the significance of interpretation in the identification of dangers; second, to the difficulties associated with calculating future occurrences; and, third, to the contemporary interest in notions of ‘risk’ across Security Studies and related disciplines including Sociology. To illustrate, we discuss the United Kingdom’s National Risk Register of civil emergencies, which maps risks according to their relative likelihood and impacts.
Lee Jarvis, Jack Holland

Chapter 7. Is Security Possible?

Abstract
This chapter explores how, and whether, security can be achieved. The discussion begins by contrasting two very different contemporary approaches to providing security: national missile defence programmes and the United Nations Millennium Campaign. These differ, we argue, not only because they mobilize different conceptions of security’s meaning and referent. But, in addition, because they mobilize different views of the likelihood and means of security’s achievement. The chapter’s second section then develops this example by exploring competing approaches to security’s possibility from realist, liberal, and a range of contemporary, ‘critical’ standpoints. In the third section we argue that disagreements between these approaches are partly a result of different assumptions about the possibility and dynamics of continuity and change - assumptions about time and history — in (global) political life. The chapter’s final section then explores the importance of assumptions such as these within Security Studies more broadly. It does so by discussing the swathe of recent interest in ‘the new’ within international politics, tracing debates around new terrorism and new wars to illustrate.
Lee Jarvis, Jack Holland

Chapter 8. Is Security Desirable?

Abstract
This chapter introduces readers to ethical questions that surround the practice and study of international security. The chapter makes two overarching arguments. The first is that all approaches to security involve ethical judgements, even if these are largely implicit. The second is that security researchers should try to remain as open as possible about their own normative commitments. The chapter begins by exploring perspectives on the ‘good’ that security can do. These include arguments for harnessing security’s power to amplify an issue’s importance, and claims about security’s connection to emancipation and human well-being. A second section then picks up the discussion with which the Introduction chapter opened, exploring security’s negatives or downsides. As demonstrated below, these include its capacity to foreclose democratic decision-making, and its connections to insecurity. The chapter concludes by arguing that it is vital that researchers remain as open as possible to a diversity of ways of speaking, practising, studying and experiencing security.
Lee Jarvis, Jack Holland

Conclusion

Abstract
In this conclusion we do three things. First, we recap and summarize the book’s content and arguments. Second, we highlight the diversity and importance of Security Studies in the contemporary world. Third, we sketch some of the future directions available to contributors and newcomers to this discipline; pointing to its porous and shifting boundaries, and to linkages with other fields of study including, amongst others, Geography, Sociology and Neuroscience. We argue that it is unnecessary, and indeed counter-productive, to isolate the field of Security Studies from the insights, approaches and methods of related disciplines.
Lee Jarvis, Jack Holland
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