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About this book

This broad-ranging new text introduces a wide range of theoretical perspectives with a central focus on their application to understanding key issues in global, state and human security in the contemporary world.

Table of Contents

Introduction

What is Security?
Abstract
Security is ultimately about life and death and therefore the things that ensure our continued existence. But as social animals, our security is not the same as that of animals and plants: basic biological functioning is not all we need to live and so not all it takes to be secure. Rather, security relates to the continuation of life and the protection and production of ways of life. To present our ways of life as merely a struggle for survival, in which all forms of social, political and economic organization are oriented to the prevention of death and the prolonging of life, would be to miss most of the experiences we have of living and seeking security. Security debates represent different views of what it is about life that is to be secured, how some deaths are to be avoided and other deaths deemed necessary or inevitable, and how the pursuit of life and prevention of death establish the ways in which both are organized.
Mike Bourne

Chapter 1. Understanding and Theorizing Security

Abstract
Understanding the logics and limits of security requires that we first understand the logics and limits of theorizing about security. For issues as complex and multifaceted as security, innumerable ‘facts’ arise from the real world — for example the end of the Cold War (1989), the al-Qaeda attacks of 11 September 2001, or the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq — which do not speak unambiguously to us but require interpretation. Different understandings of security are not simply opposing evaluations of real-world security problems, leaving the student of security with the task of judging which theory best fits the facts of security. Rather, they contain widely varying underlying assumptions about the scope of security, the purpose and practice of developing theories, and the building blocks of those theories — deeper questions of what the social and political world is made of (ontology), and how we know, understand and produce knowledge (epistemology). These assumptions are formative of the way the academic field of ‘security studies’ has produced different understandings of security. This field initially arose as a subset of the wider discipline of international relations (IR), itself part of the study of politics. It has therefore been concerned with the international politics of security. However, it has increasingly focused on wider sets of relations, including domestic and transnational relations, and has frequently engaged with or drawn on concepts from other disciplines, most notably economics, sociology, history, geography and psychology. Security studies is now a hybrid field, whose foundational assumptions, and the challenges to them, often derive from wider theoretical and practical endeavours. It has also undergone periods of great theoretical innovation, and periods of a narrowing of debate onto empirical questions. As it has done so, the scope of its concern has changed (Walt, 1991; Booth, 1994; Baldwin, 1997; Prins, 1998; Buzan and Hansen, 2009).
Mike Bourne

Chapter 2. Traditional Rationalist Approaches to Security

Abstract
Understanding security has traditionally operated on the basis of rationalist approaches. These understand security behaviours as deriving from the rationality of actors who pursue their interests by making cost-benefit calculations attuned to their circumstances. The two main rationalist approaches to understanding security are realism and liberalism. These are diverse traditions but most rationalist approaches have an emphasis on the rational actions of self-interested actors, a focus on states as the primary or exclusive security actors, and a narrow conception of security as pertaining to the issues of war and military competition. Considerable diversity of thought can arise from rationalist, state-centric assumptions. Realism has been the dominant theoretical tradition in security studies, even more than in IR, although liberalism is also a well-established set of perspectives. In the story of security studies, the dominance of realism is continually affirmed and critiqued, and realism becomes the appropriator and defender of state-centrism and power politics. However, realism’s tragic view of the logics and limits of security is not inherent in all rationalism or state-centrism. This chapter discusses the basic concepts of rationalist approaches and explores their evolution. It begins with the central principles of realism and the evolution of realist thought. It then draws out the logics and limits of security posited by realism by discussing its key concepts and orientations related to power (particularly the notion of the balance of power), rationality, and the potential for change. Finally, it explores liberal approaches and draws out the differences and similarities in the logics and limits of security they claim.
Mike Bourne

Chapter 3. Critical Approaches and New Frameworks

Abstract
Chapter 2 explored the traditional theories of security found in various strands of realism and liberalism. While these are diverse, a range of new approaches to understanding security have emerged that have different foundations and pose different questions. These approaches are critical of the underlying rationalist assumptions of realism and liberalism. Some also criticize the traditional focus on military security and engage more with the broader range of security issues and deeper range of security referents discussed. They have tended to be more explicitly theoretical and have produced a deeper and more direct engagement with social and political theory (see Chapter 1). Much of the critique of traditional theory has targeted realism and neorealism, but is also critical of the assumptions shared with liberalism and the practices of liberal security that dominate many Western states’ security politics. These new theories of security have evolved through disagreements with each other. For instance, in contrast to realism, almost all these approaches emphasize the importance of ideas as well as material factors in understanding security, but they differ on which ideas matter and how.
Mike Bourne

Chapter 4. The Sovereign State and Internal Security

Abstract
The sovereign state is often viewed as the primary actor in security politics and the primary provider of security to its citizens. Indeed, the development of sovereign states is centrally related to issues of security and binds security in relationships between authority and legitimacy, territory, community and violence. In most understandings of security, the distinction between domestic and international security is produced and policed by the state. The logics and limits of security are posed in radically different terms, with internal security provided through the rule of law and the gradual professionalization of policing, and external security provided in interstate relations via the military and diplomatic organs of the state but governed by anarchy and self-help. This chapter examines understandings of the state and its internal security roles. First, it explores how security is related to concepts of the state and processes of state formation. It then discusses states’ internal security practices through an exploration of the supposed pacification of domestic social relations, and the practices of policing and surveillance. Many of these go beyond the commonsense notions of security through control and domination found in understandings of security. It then explores contemporary transformations of the state and its security roles as these have come to cross and reconfigure the boundaries of internal and external security and public and private in how security is provided. These transformations are also increasingly entangled with moves towards homeland security that are reconfiguring the responsibility for and conduct of domestic security practices and politics in Western societies. Thus, the chapter explores how sovereign states provide security, how security itself is conceptualized in this practice (moving from physical protection to the protection of ways of life), and how the state is continually reproduced and evolving in this process.
Mike Bourne

Chapter 5. Acting under Uncertainty: The Security Dilemma, Strategy and Risk

Abstract
The previous chapters explored how we know about security and how states provide it within their borders. This chapter shifts the focus to how security actors (states and others) know about security and addresses the perennial questions of security action and interaction: How, what and how much do security actors know? How does that knowledge affect how they act? In much theorizing, the logics of security set its limits: the logics of anarchy and power set limits on cooperation and shape the scarcity of security, which limit how and how much security can be achieved. This chapter explores the reverse relationship: How do the limits of certainty in practical security knowledge set the logics of security action? Even if one assumes that states are rational calculating actors, it cannot be assumed that states have reliable information on which to form their calculations. Thus, the conditions under which security is sought are characterized by a degree of uncertainty about the dangers actors face and therefore what the most effective actions will be. This chapter explores the challenges of action under conditions of uncertainty and how understandings of uncertainty shape the possibilities, scope and form of security action. First, it discusses the central concept of the security dilemma that relates primarily to interstate relations. Here, anarchy amplifies uncertainty and produces the logics and limits of action that policy makers must navigate. It then explores the practical implications of uncertainty and differing interpretations of it in forming and implementing a strategy for security. Finally, moving beyond the traditional notions of the security dilemma that emphasize threats from other states, it examines contemporary reinterpretations of security not as the mitigation of threats but as the management of risk. Here, too, notions of uncertainty set the character of security action, but are understood in different ways.
Mike Bourne

Chapter 6. Global and Regional Security Formations

Abstract
This chapter looks at the range and roles of what we can term ‘security formations’. While much literature speaks in general terms of security institutions, which include formal organizations and regimes, this chapter has a wider focus on the range of ways states come together in more or less durable formations of security relationships, hence the term ‘security formation’. These relate primarily to the various forms of cooperative relationships states form with each other to pursue security, ranging from attempts to create global collective and common security to alliances, regimes and security communities. These characterizations and concepts of security formations emphasize the different social logics and practical limits in the purpose, dynamics and durability of security seeking beyond the state. The chapter then looks at regional security in order to show how states’ security relationships differ at the regional and global level, with some important implications for the supposedly universal claims put forth by many approaches to security. Such regional security formations include cooperation and conflict in relatively durable configurations. Finally, it draws out the ways in which regional security formations, including security communities and other groupings, may complement or conflict with global collective or common security.
Mike Bourne

Chapter 7. War and Killing

Abstract
Violence and war are perennial features of security relations. As realists, like Walt (1991), claim, the use of military force has far-reaching effects on states and societies. As critical scholars, like Huysmans (1998) argue, security seeks to intervene in human relationships with death and particularly violent death. The sources and limits of war and killing are, therefore, central to understanding security. This chapter explores these through engaging with the philosophy of modern war, the transformation and limiting of warfare, contemporary manifestations of war, and issues of killing and violence beyond the confines of war. In doing so, it explores different understandings of war that all, in some way, articulate themselves in relation to the dominant theorist of modern war, Carl von Clausewitz (1780–1831). Specifically, it addresses the basic philosophical conceptualization of war found in Clausewitz and the varying ways this has been appropriated or critiqued by scholars of security. It outlines differing arguments about the causes of war and then addresses the logic, intensity and scale of warfare, particularly in the 20th and 21st centuries. It thus engages with various proposals about war, from those that claim it is eternally present to those liberals who argue it is increasingly obsolete. It then looks at contemporary forms of war, including the high-tech, ‘virtuous’ wars of liberal Western states, the growth of private military actors, and the ‘new’ civil wars embedded in the globalizing structures of governance and capital. Finally, it briefly engages with the question of the political utility of violence beyond war, particularly in relation to genocide.
Mike Bourne

Chapter 8. Arms Trade, Arms Control and Disarmament

Abstract
Weapons and military technologies are integral to the security dilemma and the incidence and conduct of war. Much security theory and practice relate to the acquisition, transfer and control of weapons of various kinds. Broader theoretical debates about whether states can build deep cooperation in security matters, and whether such cooperation has much impact on states’ behaviour, are particularly played out in relation to military technology issues. Indeed, we can think about these issues in two related ways. First, as a range of relations between states that are conducted via technology: that is, how and why states relate to each other by exchanging technology with each other, or by restricting the movement and use of technology internationally. Second, relations with technology: Are weapons mere tools or do they shape states’ relations with each other? The balance between these views differs not just between states, but between different categories of weapons in ways that are not simple reflections of the destructive power weapons embody.
Mike Bourne

Chapter 9. Human Security

Abstract
Security has increasingly been discussed in terms of fostering human security. The language of human security and, perhaps more widely, its ethical underpinnings and the scope of security it implies have become pervasive, particularly in relation to interventions in conflicts or the conduct of military interventions (see Chapter 10). The concept of human security shifts the referent object of security to the human rather than the state (see Chapter 1). While previous chapters have explored states’ security roles and behaviours, this chapter explores the politics of defining security on the basis of a different referent object. Does this imply a wider range of security issues or a different type of security politics and practice? Does the change in referent object necessarily imply a change in who provides security? What role do states have in pursuing human security? Is human security really as ethically sound as it presents itself? All these questions arise within the debates on human security and the various analyses of the political fortunes of the concept.
Mike Bourne

Chapter 11. Weak States and Intervention

Abstract
The greatest levels of human insecurity are often found in states that are weak, failing, or collapsed. Such states are increasingly viewed as the source of threats to powerful states since they are believed to be associated with conflict (Chapter 7), terrorism (Chapter 11), and transnational crime, disease and refugee flows (Chapter 12). This links human and state security (Chapters 4 and 9) in a changing international system. This chapter first explores the rise of weak and failing states as a central concern in global security politics. It then explores the various forms of intervention that other states undertake in relation to state weakness and associated violence and conflict. This relates to the debates over whether it is justifiable for the international community to intervene in the domestic affairs of other states and the implications of intervention for sovereignty and international order. It also relates to the conditions under which intervention may be deemed legitimate, and whether it actually works to produce security and for whom. Finally, the chapter explores the contemporary liberal peace and the practical and political challenges of ‘fixing failed states’ and building post-conflict security (Ghani and Lockhart, 2008).
Mike Bourne

Chapter 11. Terrorism and Counterterrorism

Abstract
Terrorism and counterterrorism have become defining features of security practice this century. Whether it is the changing threat of terrorism or the practices of counterterrorism that are responsible for altering security is open to contestation. Certainly, the ‘war on terror’ has killed far more people than terrorism has in recent years, but the future of terrorism rouses the greatest fears and uncertainties. This chapter begins with a discussion of definitional issues and the problems of conceptualizing terrorism. It then explores the relationship between terrorism and states by asking whether states can be terrorists and how states have provided support to non-state terrorist actors. It explores the major transformations in terrorism that have produced the greatest concern about seemingly fanatical, powerful terrorist networks, enabled by globalization, with the means of mass destruction at their disposal. Finally, it explores different approaches to counterterrorism and the related developments of international cooperation.
Mike Bourne

Chapter 12. Migration, Crime and Borders

Abstract
Most security theory concerns itself with static targets — other states. However, concerns about the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the spread of pandemic disease or the harms of drugs trafficking cannot be understood solely in national and international terms. They, like many concerns about terrorism, are deemed potentially threatening because they move, and because of how they move. Thus, security increasingly takes aim at moving targets. Some movements of people and some commodities (arms, drugs and so on) are increasingly securitized — particularly when they are conducted by transnational criminals. For some critics, in contemporary security, all movements of people and things are encountered as potentially dangerous, as possible bombs (Packer, 2006). The way states, as security providers, encounter mobile people and commodities has become complex. No longer are people encountered solely as citizens in need of protection, but also as criminals, victims and potential terrorists. Flows of goods may be viewed as beneficial to wealth and economic development but also as threats to state, societal and human security.
Mike Bourne

Chapter 13. Environmental, Energy and Resource Security

Abstract
This chapter looks at security relations with and within the natural and human-made world. What is the relationship between natural resources and conflict? How does environmental change affect security? How does the meaning of security change when environmental issues are emphasized? These questions are central to contemporary security practices, but are also issues that most approaches to security were not designed to tackle. Clearly, environmental issues resist the division of security problems along national territorial lines, since the boundaries of political communities do not fully describe the contours of environmental issues. However, the politics of the environment remains partially wedded to the territorial division of power and community. While environmental security arose as a key issue in the 1980s, rather than focusing on the environment as a referent object for security, the dominant concern has been to integrate environmental issues — such as resource scarcity and the implications of global population growth — into traditionalist assumptions about the causes of violent conflict. First, the chapter explores the broad debates over the securitization of the environment. It then looks at how the prospects for resource conflict are understood and the debate over how resource scarcity is related to conflict. It then examines radical alternatives to this debate that posit the environment as a referent object to be secured. Finally, it explores these different ways of understanding security in and of the natural world by focusing on the rising concerns of climate change and the security of energy, food and water supplies.
Mike Bourne

Chapter 14. Conclusion

Abstract
What are we to make of understanding security? Security has no settled or universally accepted meaning. This book has not been a search for one, but has sought to explore the ways in which many different securities are understood and practised. It began with three main claims:
(1)
Security is about life and death, ways of life and the prevention, delay or manner of death.
 
(2)
Security is a powerful word, operative as a noun/condition, an adjective/ value, and a verb/practice or type of politics.
 
(3)
Security is comprehensible only through the specific relationships in which it is entangled with other things.
 
Likewise, understanding is both a condition (of ontological security: the knowledge that one’s knowledge is sufficiently reliable to enable predictable living in the world) and a verb: a process of cognition, interaction, thought, reflection, evidence gathering, valuing, asserting, arguing, agreeing, dismissing, ignoring, interpreting and misinterpreting. Together, these establish the logics and limits of security.
Mike Bourne
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